06/04/09 — Stoney Creek project hitting regulation snag

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Stoney Creek project hitting regulation snag

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on June 4, 2009 1:46 PM

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Efforts to clean up Stoney Creek have been slowed because of a failure to obtain a necessary permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The initiative to improve Stoney Creek has hit a snag.

The Army Corps of Engineers did not approve the Nationwide Permit 27 that would have allowed the process to continue.

Officials working with the project don't yet know what decision the Army Corps of Engineers will make in regards to the future of the cleanup, or why the permit was not approved, city Public Works Director Neil Bartlett said.

The Nationwide Permit 27 regulates aquatic habitat restoration, establishment and enhancement.

"We have not had an opportunity to talk with the people from the Corps of Engineers. We are in the process of responding," Bartlett said.

The concern over the creek permit will not affect development plans for a proposed park next to the creek. Proposed designs for the park are continuing on schedule, however, said Stoney Creek Park Alliance member Dr. Peter Roethling.

"Not at all, we've always had the park project separate from the creek," Roethling said.

The funding for the cleanup project is not affected by the permit concern, but Bartlett said that it is too early to speculate on what the next step will be beyond talking with the Corps.

Park planners are still in the planning process for a dog park and other features, and Goldsboro is in the running for a grant from FIT cities that, if awarded, will provide funding for a climbing rock and a "born learning" trail featuring signs and educational areas for children.

"Physically, we expect to see good results coming around by fall," Roethling said.

Some parts of the park are already under development.

Avid mountain biker Mike Thomas has been building biking trails since he was a college student, and now the high school teacher is donating his time and experience to carve a path through Stoney Creek Park.

Thomas and Mike Wiggins, owner of local bike shop Bicycle World, and Jerry Dugan, a bicycle enthusiast with the Seyboro Cyclists, are pitching in to donate their own elbow grease to the ongoing volunteer project.

When he saw the space available at Stoney Creek Park, Thomas was surprised at the amount of space and natural beauty of the property.

"I didn't know all that land was back there," Thomas said. "I was like, we have access to this?"

Thomas and his family live in Pikeville, but said the closest trails for his sport are an hour's drive away in Raleigh. Having the new trail in Stoney Creek Park could attract biking fans from around the region, he said.

Thomas wields a pair of clippers and a band saw, Wiggins has been working with weed killer to destroy the patches of poison ivy along the trail and Dugan is assisting with the time-consuming cutting process.

"A lot of sweat, a lot of time," Thomas said.

Work has paused for the summer, as the hottest time of the year brings out the thickest weeds, stickers and burrs, but eventually the crew hopes to extend the trail to a full four miles.

There are sections of the path that are a hard ride, and some sections that are suitable for novices, and for hikers on foot, too, Thomas said.

"It's very pretty," he said, adding that the trails have only flooded once in the three months he's been working on cutting the path.

Lumber for the bridges and other structures is being recycled from the old wood left over from the 1999 flooding caused by Hurricane Floyd.