Paul Winn is a Masters Student of City and Regional Planning and a graduate student assistant working with Lenoir County.
A conceptual plan for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) of Eastern North Carolina was produced in 2004 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with Greenways, Inc. While the official support of the State in promoting the MST is an important step in creating a continuous cross-state trail, it is still up to each community to plan, fund, and create local trail segments. The conceptual plan envisions the Eastern NC MST following the banks of the Neuse River. However, for much of Eastern North Carolina, this presents a problem.
Much of the land surrounding the Neuse River in Eastern NC is wetland which makes trail construction costly and difficult. A viable solution in Kinston may be to utilize existing gravity sewer easements as trail easements. Using utility easements for greenways and trails is not a new concept, but it may be a particularly cost-effective means for implementing a lengthy trail through the City of Kinston. The easement provides high, level, and relatively dry ground, an existing cleared right-of-way, and an existing easement agreement that may facilitate obtaining an additional trail easement agreement. Much of the proposed trail along this easement would still be within sight of the river, yet the trail could be constructed at a fraction of the cost of a trail immediately adjacent to the river, which would have to be built as an elevated boardwalk at great expense.