Executive Summary

The initial objectives set forth by the City of Raleigh are to develop a comprehensive recreation master plan for an eighteen mile stretch of the Neuse River from Falls Lake Dam to Poole Road and detailed master plans for river front parks at Milburnie and Anderson Point. Such plans are intended to guide acquisition of sites for and development of recreational opportunities. The planning process quickly revealed an essential and exciting relationship between recreational opportunity and the river's environmental context. Thus, the primary objective for the whole project is the conservation of the river while incorporating recreational opportunity within the framework of the river's environmental systems.

This framework of environmental systems has two major components: the 100 year flood plain and a sequence of key upland sites along the river. Milburnie and Anderson Point represent two such sites. When linked together, these upland sites and the river's flood plain create a regional-scale park of extraordinary richness and diversity. This park, the Neuse River Regional Park, is a vision that was first anticipated by earlier planning efforts of the City, and is founded on the opportunities now at hand, the capabilities and interests of the City at large, and the need to conserve and experience the natural beauty of the Neuse River.

The principal components of the Neuse River Regional Park Master Plan consist of the Conceptual Framework, the Corridor Master Plan, the Anderson Point Park Master Plan, and the Milburnie Park Master Plan. The Conceptual Framework identifies general strategies and basic principles for Corridor development, and outlines the broadest spectrum of opportunity. The Corridor Master Plan builds upon the Conceptual Framework to identify a specific strategy for linking flood plain and upland sites into a regional-scale park. It also identifies the specific physical components around which the regional park is structured.

Of these physical components, the critical ones are the Flood Plain, the Neuse River Trail, the Arrival Parks, the Gateways, and Potential Park Land areas (key upland sites). The Flood Plain and the Neuse River Trail are inextricably linked as they wind their way together along the river. The Arrival Parks are destinations in their own right, and two examples are presented in the detailed master plans for Anderson Point Park and Milburnie Park. The Gateways are small parks that provide access to the Neuse River Trail, and the Potential Park Land areas provide complementary activities that are not appropriate for the flood plain. Each site is considered relative to its relationship to the river and to its potential for upland activity so that amenities and recreational opportunities are offered to a broad range of people.

The Anderson Point and Milburnie Master Plans are ready for immediate implementation, while the Neuse River Regional Park Master Plan is necessarily broader in its outlook and presents more flexible alternatives. It provides a framework for public and private cooperation to incrementally build a regional-scale park of great significance.

This master plan, including all its components, emphasizes the relationship between resource conservation and recreation value. Throughout the planning process a committee of citizens and city staff guided by professional consultants scrutinized specifics as well as principles to strike a balance between active and passive uses, conservation and development. The plan first delineates the areas that require conservation to protect the Neuse River Corridor and then describe how recreation can be accommodated. Next the plan emphasizes the many ways people can enjoy the river; moving along, crossing over, floating down, driving by, or even getting in it. The plan addresses trail systems for walking and slow recreational cycling as well as parkways and riverside drives accommodating, in addition to pedestrians, vehicles and faster bicycles. It also identifies upland sites where the park can accommodate development for active and organized recreational activities without disrupting the river's environmental systems. In essence, the Regional Park blends all types of recreational activities from bird watching to baseball without conflict, and celebrates the river and the unique pleasures it provides.

In summary, this report presents the opportunities and constraints of the Neuse River Corridor and organizes them into a cohesive vision of the Neuse River Regional Park. In addition it describes in detail plans for two river front Arrival Parks and the short corridor between them. It communicates the intent of the master plan committee and the City of Raleigh staff which is to accelerate a course of action, begun years ago, that will create the eighteen mile long Neuse River Regional Park. This Regional Park represents both a challenge and an opportunity. Its vision reaches to the future but its demands ask much of us in the present. Assembling the pieces identified in this report, one by one, will yield extraordinary rewards in the present and for many generations to come.