Matthews – Mint Hill Weekly
MINT HILL – Leaders in Mint Hill are striding forward in an effort to make the town a “walkable” community.
The town is nearing completion of 1.5 miles of sidewalks from N.C. 51 to Quail Ridge Drive and Lawyers Road to Apple Creek Drive. The Mint Hill Board of Commissioners also approved two miles of sidewalk expansions last month that will continue south on N.C. 51 from the intersection at Quail Ridge to Idlewild Road, as well as fill in some gaps along Wilson Grove Road.
Town manager Brian Welch said the N.C. 51/Quail Ridge and Lawyers Road/Apple Creek sidewalk project cost $500,000 and was allocated from general funding.
Welch said sidewalks have become a priority in the last 15 years.
“We are trying to maximize pedestrian connection to provide a different mode of transportation,” he said.
The current project, which stands feet from completion (only two-tenths of a mile from Quail Ridge), stalled at N.C. 51 and Mintwood Drive because of rainy weather. Lawyers Road and Apple Creek Drive sidewalks also fall short by two-tenths of a mile, close to Wooden Rail Lane.
Businesses and residents say they’re already reaping the benefits of the new sidewalks. Mint Hill Arts employee Mary Beth Thomas believes the sidewalks on the opposite side of Lawyers Road, across from Mint Hill Plaza, are a great addition to the community.
“I think it’s great; I think it encourages people to get out more,” Thomas said.
Richard Morris, owner of Dunwellz, a restaurant and pour house located in Mint Hill Pavilion on N.C. 51, said his business already benefits from the foot traffic at Brighton Park and looks forward to the increase in pedestrian patrons.
“It will definitely affect foot traffic,” Morris said. “We get a lot from Brighton Park, and this will increase foot traffic outside of Brighton Park. People won’t have to waste gas and can walk in the sunshine and be connected to local amenities.”
Mint Hill residents Paul and Robyn Imirie walk their Labrador, Woody, along the sidewalks on N.C. 51 and Brighton Park every day. They refer to the sidewalks as “our sidewalks.”
“We love it. We walk (the sidewalks) four miles a day. We look forward to walking or riding our bikes to Costco on Idlewild,” Robyn Imirie said.
Welch said the continued expansion from N.C. 51 and Quail Ridge to Idlewild Road and the fill-ins along Wilson Grove Road are still in the planning phase. Town engineer Steve Frey started evaluating the project on Monday, April 6, and will report to Welch and the board in the coming months, prior to collecting construction bids.
Welch doesn’t have a definitive timeline in place, but he suspects the project will be completed over the next two to three years.
Mayor Ted Biggers believes the town’s conservative financial approach to the expansion has left the project favorable in the eyes of the public.
“I haven’t had anyone complain about the costs,” Biggers said. “We have budgeted them in phases to avoid any tax increase and have required developers to install them whenever possible.”
The sidewalk expansions will give pedestrians access to more than a dozen neighborhoods, connecting them to Independence High School via Idlewild Road and the town’s two parks, as well as dining and shopping centers.
“A lot of people like living close to the amenities and they want to be able to walk there safely,” Biggers said. “There’s no doubt that sidewalks are a very appealing addition to our small-town charm.”