Birmingham Outdoors

In keeping with the theme of the new header, I’ll highlight a few cool outdoor stories:

First, we could soon have a 28 mile trail along five mile creek:

The Five Mile Creek Greenway, which began as an idea to make green space out of an abandoned mobile home park in Tarrant, is on its way to becoming a path that stretches the length of the 28-mile creek.

The trail would start in Centerpoint and end up near the Black Warrior River. This would really be fantastic. The creek never gets too far out of the city, but parts of it seem like they are in the middle of nowhere. The section though Brookside – a really cool little town – is especially pretty.

Second:

Tom Leader, hired this week to remake four blocks in the city’s midsection into Birmingham’s Railroad Reservation Park, has a clear vision of the project’s purpose.

“It’s kind of bringing together the railroad, nature and the community into one big space that works like a civic living room,” said Leader, 50, who was awarded a $1.1 million project this week to design the park. “Meaning this is a place where the city can get together. It’s a place for two people on a picnic to 40,000 people at a crawfish boil.”

The 14-acre park project is part of an effort to reshape and revitalize property around railroad tracks that separate the city’s north and south sides. The park will sit in the district that stretches from just west of Interstate 65 to Sloss Furnaces, spanning downtown and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The park and other projects are expected to spur residential and commercial development in the heart of the city.

One of my gripes about B’ham is the lack of public spaces; spots where anyone can go and just hang out. This would be such a place. They just had the official groundbreaking, though it will still be a while before any real work begins. I remember the first time I heard about this project. It was at the Art Walk about three years ago. I scoffed at the idea of something like that ever happening here. Looks like I was wrong.

Third, I’ll also mention two other projects that are still in infancy: Red Mountain Park and an addition to Ruffner Mountain Nature Center. RMP would be the largest urban park in the country, though I’m especially excited about it because the plans call for mountain bike trails, something on which this town is ridiculously short.

Fourth, for you Over the Mountain Folks, there’s the completion of the Shades Creek Greenway. When finished, it would extend West past John Carrol HS to West Homewood Park, and on the Eastern End go under 280 and meet the Jemison Trail. The eastern work will be especially appreciated by anyone – like me – who has ever risked their life using the current “connection:” Lakeshore Drive through the 280 junction.

I like B’ham, it’s a cool town. But if these projects are completed, it would be exponentially better. Plans like this have been around for years, but have generally been ignored.  So it’s refreshing to see people take the lead in making this a great place to live.

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