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Greenville addresses concern over waterway at new Wildwood Park

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - When Jillian Howell, Pamlico-Tar riverkeeper, was on the waterway near the area designed to be a kayak launch at Wildwood Park in July, she had concerns about the construction.

“When you have steep banks, and when you have storms that happen so frequently in this part of the state, that’s kind of a recipe for sediment erosion problems if you’re not super proactive,” Howell said.

Photos of phase one construction of Wildwood Park in July show a hillside that Sound Rivers was...
Photos of phase one construction of Wildwood Park in July show a hillside that Sound Rivers was concerned about.(WITN)

Groundbreaking for phase one construction of Greenville’s newest park began in March 2021.

The City of Greenville said the recently completed first phase of Wildwood Park includes a sandy beach area, a floating dock with boat slips, a 1.5-mile natural trail, a kayak launch, a waterfront camping platform, paved parking and other shelter and site improvements.

But before things changed, Howell said she noticed the sand they were using to create the beach was running off the hill and causing sediment pollution in the river, which can affect water quality and have a number of impacts on river aquatic life.

Photos of phase one construction of Wildwood Park in July show a hillside that Sound Rivers was...
Photos of phase one construction of Wildwood Park in July show a hillside that Sound Rivers was concerned about.(WITN)
Photos of phase one construction of Wildwood Park in July show a hillside that Sound Rivers was...
Photos of phase one construction of Wildwood Park in July show a hillside that Sound Rivers was concerned about.(WITN)

“It makes the water more turbid, so essentially more cloudy,” Howell said. “That impacts animals trying to move around and seek food sources. It also is blocking sunlight so it’s impacting the growth of aquatic life.”

Greenville Recreation & Parks Director Don Octigan said the city addressed this issue, such as bringing in specific clay and vegetation to help stabilize the bank to prevent erosion.

“We brought in specific clay that works in with the environment out there at Wildwood Park and we compacted it, so in a rainstorm, or with water runoff, it would maintain, it would stay stable,” Octigan said.

Howell said this may be small in terms of how water quality is being impaired across the watershed, but when you add it all up, it matters.

She acknowledged the city addressed concerns but this is a reminder of a broader problem that happens when cities and counties are not careful.

“As a larger issue, I’m really focused on projects that are close by to a waterway, but it’s not just construction projects that are adjacent to streams or creeks that are an issue,” Howell said.

“Because if sediment is leaving a site, that sediment is going [to] end up in storm drains and that storm drain is eventually going to get to the river.”

Jillian Howell, Pamlico-Tar riverkeeper

Both Howell and Octigan said the park will be a great amenity to the public as people will have more access to the river.

On Monday, the city council approved the park’s future development plan, which includes a second phase with features such as an observation tower, a bicycle motocross pump track and mountain bike trail, boardwalks, additional trails, more camping platforms, and a nature-themed playground, according to the city.

The first phase of Wildwood Park will be unveiled on Friday in an invite-only, ribbon-cutting event and then open to the public on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The City of Greenville said admission is free and a variety of activities will be offered including water sport activities, inflatables, food trucks, a nature trail scavenger hunt, camping platform demos, face painting, art stations, and more.

The Switch will also be performing live music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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