The Story of Little Sugar Creek and A Vision for Booker Creek

Vision for Booker CreekA Vision for Booker Creek

In 2014, the town government under Mayor Kleinschmidt adopted a new zoning code that governs real estate development in the 200-acre Ephesus-Fordham district. Among the flaws in this code is the lack of any vision for creating a central community amenity that will attract people to the district and help spur commercial revitalization at the northeast gateway to Chapel Hill.

At the time the code was adopted, some community members brought forth the idea of removing the pavement over Booker Creek where it flows underneath Eastgate, i.e. “creek daylighting,” but the concept received little attention from elected leaders or Town staff. Now, however,  the prospect of restoring lower Booker Creek is receiving renewed attention, for two reasons. First, the Town is considering changes to the code that will bring community amenities, such as parkland and recreation space, to the Ephesus-Fordham district. In addition, a consultant has completed a detailed analysis of the Lower Booker Creek Watershed with the goal of improving stream water quality and mitigating flooding.

As Mayor Hemminger and Town Council members seek ways to provide community recreation space in Ephesus-Fordham and to reduce flooding in the district, we can look to other cities for inspiration. For example, over the past several years the city of Charlotte has turned an eyesore and source of chronic flooding into a community treasure.

Ten years ago, Little Sugar Creek in Charlotte had the worst water quality of any creek in North Carolina. Its natural flow was partially obstructed. It had been covered in places with asphalt, concrete, even a shopping mall, just like Chapel Hill’s Booker Creek. In 2008, the City and County undertook an ambitious stream restoration and greenway project to improve Little Sugar Creek’s water quality and to create a trail to serve as a destination for tourism and recreation.

On the evening of October 26, Crystal Taylor-Goode, who managed the Little Sugar Creek restoration project for the City of Charlotte, gave a presentation at the Chapel Hill Public Library in which she described the history of the project, including the factors that contributed to its success and the lessons learned.

The video of Ms. Taylor-Goode’s  lecture is here.

Other Resouces:

  • December 2014  Jan Smith and Steve Bevington deliver a concept for daylighting Booker Creek to the Booker Creek Watershed Alliance.  See powerpoint here.
  • October 2016   CHALT Speakers Series.  Crystal Taylor-Good, the project lead for the City of Charlotte’s Daylighting project in downtown Charlotte, NC.  Video is here.
  • October 2016  Planning Commission passes resolution for green space in Ephesus Fordham District.  Read it here.
  • October 2016  WK Dickson makes interim report to Chapel Hill Stormwater Board.  One recommendation includes an impoundment in Eastgate area near the Linear Park. File here.
  • November 2016  Town Council holds walking tour with staff and citizens of Booker Creek in the Ephesus Fordham District.
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