Wake County, NC – With thousands of acres of parks and hundreds of miles of greenways, Wake County is one of the leading parks communities in the country. Now, Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson will be the chair of a new national committee, looking at preserving and creating parks, trails and open space around the United States.
Parks and Greenways Across the Country
Hutchinson will be the first chair of the National Association of Counties‘ Parks, Open Space and Trails Subcommittee, serving for a one-year period. He described himself as a parks advocate for more than 20 years and was asked by the national association’s leadership to lead this new subcommittee.
“I feel we have one of the best greenway systems in the country,” Hutchinson said. “In this new role, we’re going to be working to figure out best practices to preserve green space.”
The subcommittee met for the first time earlier this year and Hutchinson said funding parks and greenways was the top discussion topic.
“A lot of the things we explore is understanding the value of these assets and how they can benefit a community,” Hutchinson said. “When we met in Washington, DC, there were around 40 county commissioners from around the country there, and what I saw was, Wake County is on the cutting edge. That’s best represented by the new funds we’ve passed for our parks.”
Benefits of Parks
While large parks projects are easily recognizable landmarks, Hutchinson said Wake County’s greenway system is one of the county’s best amenities that often gets overlooked
“We have one of the best greenway systems but no one knows it,” Hutchinson said, contrasting it with Charlotte’s smaller but more widely known greenway network.
Hutchinson said greenways are a “linear park” and the county is working to market them better to the public while also expanding and connecting the greenways.
“The plan is to develop a regional vision and connect greenways, within Wake County and with neighboring counties,” he said.
Parks and green space also benefit the communities, Hutchinson said, through the preservation of clean air and clean water.
“One of the best ways to protect our water is to secure green space,” he said.
Having a network of parks, greenways and open green space also helps local wildlife, Hutchinson said, by giving them a corridor to travel through.
“When you put an interstate down, you cut off those wildlife corridors,” he said.
Hutchinson has previously served on the National Association of Counties’ Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) Steering Committee and the Healthy Counties Initiative Advisory Board.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Michael Papich and Wake County.