MONTLIMAR CANAL GREENWAY: EXPLAINING THE CONCEPT AND COMPARING IT TO
OTHER FINISHED PROJECTS
Michael H. Olmstead, Jr, Department of Earth
Sciences, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688. E-mail:
Keyword: Mobile, greenway,
Greenways are quickly becoming a common scene in many urban setting. These
hiking/walking and biking trails not only provide a place for people to get
away from the chaotic world of city living but also the opportunity to become
more involved in protecting their local watersheds. This project will deal with extending
the Montlimar Canal Greenway and comparing the city of Mobile, AL to other cities
that have created successful greenway projects (Fig. 1).
In the beginning, the Montlimar Canal was just a
waterway within an urban area with overgrown grasses and served no purpose but
to drain rainwater from the City of Mobile and dump the
water into Dog River. However, with the initiative of people
such as Dr. Mimi Fearn, Former Senator Ann Bedsole, and other City Council
members, a plan was developed to build 50 miles worth of trails that connected
the Mobile area and rejuvenated the Dog River
plan was dubbed the “Tri-Centennial City Master Plan for Green spaces” (Adams
the only section of this 50-mile trail system that was completed was the one-mile
section from Airport Blvd. To Michael Blvd. (Fig. 2). The big deal here
is that the city did not fund this project, it was fully funded by ATOFINA
Chemical Company (which was later taken over by Arkema Group) as part of a
supplemental environmental project they had to complete as part of a court
order (USA vs. ATOFINA 2002).
This court order further specified that no other outside funds
would be used to supplement the project; stating the financial burden was on
is perfectly fine until it comes to extending the project, and then the city
would need to put out money for the completion of the trail.
factor that hinders many greenway projects is funding. The use of state and federal funds is
not well known to most people in a community. According the National Park Service’s
website on Greenway and open space projects, a site in Virginia has received in
excess of one million dollars in funding to create a Green space (National Park
Service 2004). In another article, Dolesh (2003) describes how this same
National Park program (Rivers, Trails and
Conservation Assistance Program) provided many grants to many cities across
the US to
the number one issue that withholds community involvement in planning the
building of a greenway is that most people have no idea what a greenway is or
what purpose it serves.
According to Noel Grove (1990) a greenway is a “corridor” that
exists within a city that is used for “improving recreation, aiding wildlife
migration, and protecting scenic regions”. Recreation greenways can provide ways
for people to hike, bike, or even just walk to get away from the city streets. The most popular
movement in greenways is creating them in order to improve physical fitness in
particular areas of the country. This movement is
called: Active Living by
Design (ALBD 2005).
With the one mile section of the Montlimar Greenway
already built, what would it take to extend this trail ¾ mile to Springhill
Memorial Hospital. Also, what can the
city of Mobile, AL
learn from other cities that have created successful Greenway projects along
There were three methods used to collect the
information needed to complete this project. These methods are: 1) Internet and
library searches on greenways and information on other cities’ greenway
projects, 2) e-mail and verbal communications with Dr. Fearn, John Bell and
Terry Plauche, 3) finally I visited the Montlimar Creek Fitness trail several
times in order to take pictures and assess the possibility of extending the
trail. The most
time consuming of the methods was obtaining responses to e-mails and phone
calls that I made to particular individuals that would have a high stake in
creating the new trail.
It can easily be
seen that the City of Mobile needs
to implement a division within the Parks and Recreation Department devoted
solely to city greenways.
This department would be in charge of finding funding sources (be
it local, state, federal or private) and take control of the cleanliness of the
green areas of the city.
I’m positive that if this department was implemented more than
one-mile of greenway would be created.
a moderately sized city such as Charleston, SC
can become part of the Active Living by Design Campaign why can’t Mobile,
AL? All it takes is initiative and the
support of the community.
However, support just doesn’t jump out of the woodwork, it takes
hard work and the willingness to be told no and be able to rebound and try to
get people to support city greenways. If people are told that these trails
will raise land values and offer a place for them to get out and enjoy the
outdoors and at the same time have a part in helping a degrading watershed then
they will be more likely to not only support but also use the greenway. In the end as
Lindsey (1999) stated, “Successful greenway development will require extensive,
ongoing public education programs at the grassroots level…”
Bell, John. 3
April 2005. E-Mail response. “re: montlimar canal greenway”
City of Mobile, Alabama.
30, 2003. http://www.cityofmobile.org/html/departments/press_releases/articles.cgi?
25 March 2005.
Dolesh and Richards. Sep2003. Blueways
and Greenways, Connecting Communities. Professional
Geographer. Vol. 38, Issue 9.
Fearn, Mimi. 2000. Proposal
for a Greenway along the Montlimar Canal. Dog River Clearwater Revival.
Lindsey, Greg; Maraj, Maltie; and Kuan,
SonCheong. Aug2001. Access,
Equity, and Urban Greenways: An
Professional Geographer. Aug2001,
Vol. 53 Issue 3
Lindsey, Greg and Knapp, Gerrit. Summer 1999. Willingness to Pay for Urban Greenway
Projects. APA Journal. Vol. 65, No. 3.
National Park Service. 1 March 2004. Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.
http://www.nps.gov/phso/rtca/03annual_report_greenway.htm> Accessed: 23 February 2005
for Public Places. Urban
Parks Online. “Funding
Sources for Greenway Projects”.
http://www.pps.org/topics/funding/greenway_sources Accesssed: 25
Revival Hike and Bike Trail.
1/17/2001. Aerial Photograph. City of Mobile GIS.
Terraserver. 2002 Aerial Photo of the Montlimar
Accessed: 8 April 2005.
of American v. ATOFINA CHEMICALS, INC. August
5, 2002. Civil
States District Court for the Eastern District
of Pennsylvania. No.