Not long after I began working for Cranberry, in the early ‘90s, our Board of Supervisors started a comprehensive planning process. It was completed in 1995 and designed to guide the next ten years of Cranberry’s growth. As part of that effort, we solicited input from our residents.
What was their Number One priority? Sidewalks and trails. They wanted to be able to walk or bike from Point A to Point B without having to drive – particularly as it applied to Rt. 19 – something which was difficult or impossible to navigate safely by foot or bicycle at that time.
Although some visionary developers had included sidewalks in residential subdivisions on their own initiative, most did not. So the Board revised the Township’s zoning code to require developers to build sidewalks wherever their properties ran alongside roadways.
For nearly 20 years now, that’s how pieces of what we believed would eventually become a network of sidewalks, came into being. Sooner or later, we reasoned, every property in Cranberry would come up for sale and seek approval for development or redevelopment. As a result, in the fullness of time, their sidewalk segments would link together throughout the Township.
But that was a long-term view, one which could require several generations to complete. Not only that, we had to spend a lot of time and effort defending Cranberry against indignant property owners who were selling to developers and claiming we were crazy and out of control for requiring such ridiculous improvements in the first place.
Fast forward to 2005. That’s when we began another comprehensive planning process. And once again, the Number One priority our residents gave us was to improve the Township’s pedestrian and bicycle connections. So now, instead of explaining why we’re requiring sidewalks, we find ourselves being pushed to speed up those connections and to defend the Township against concerns that we’re not getting more done. Today people ask us: where is my connecting sidewalk? Where is my trail?
Well, the answer is: we’re on the case.
When our Board authorized the creation of Graham Park, they, as well as the residents involved in its planning, made clear that we were to design links into its walkway system which would allow connections to adjoining neighborhoods – a feature that Bellevue Park took advantage of when their neighborhood was built. Then last month, we inaugurated a new mile-long continuous sidewalk linking Freedom and Rochester Roads along the Thomson Park/Executive Drive Boulevard.
A little over a year ago, the Hunters Creek Homeowners Association saw a trail opportunity for their residents. They engaged Township staff in planning a trail through woods and meadows which would reach Graham Park. In early October, we will be celebrating the culmination of that partnership with a scenic 2,000 foot trail connecting Hunters Creek to Graham Park – and providing them a connection to miles of pedestrian and bicycle trails already in place.
Similar planning is currently underway with The Crossings, Springfield Manor and Pinehurst neighborhoods. And construction is underway to connect Graham Park to Powell Road, across the new bridge now being built over Brush Creek. That bridge will include a sidewalk leading to Woodbine Estates, Greenfield Estates, and beyond.
The impetus to make all these connections happen is a direct result of the input we consistently heard from our residents about how important non-vehicular connections really are to them. So we’re seizing every opportunity to make them happen.
If your neighborhood or business wants to partner with us to advance your pedestrian connections to the rest of Cranberry Township, please let me know. We love partnerships; they always advance projects more quickly that if they were solely being advanced by the Township. Just let us know when you want to start your trail!
I’d love to hear what you think. Write to me at Jerry.Andree@CranberryTownship.org