Published Somedays

Crap Jail Land, Big Controversy

(updated: Mar 8, 2009)

Steve, Jim, and I met with the New Hanover County Parks Advisory Board on Wednesday morning. We had a list of things to discuss. However, the key item was expansion of the trails onto the area to the west of the jail.

We started off giving some statistics of park usage. The numbers just keep growing. Our best guess from the data is that last year there were 16,000 visits to the park. This year we expect that it will be 10 – 20% higher. At this rate, we'll have more than 40,000 visits in five years. Clearly, we need more trails and better management of them.

So then we went into expanding the trails, using the county land that is to the west of the jail. This is where things started to rapidly go downhill. It was two people who really put the kibosh on trail expansion, County Commissioner Jason Thompson, and not surprisingly our own Parks Director Neal Lewis. If you couldn't guess by their non-verbal cues, when they opened their mouths they removed all doubt. Interestingly I had spoken with Neal Lewis a while back about changing Phase II from BMX to just trails for now because a BMX track at this point is just not going to happen. He had said that trails would be a lot easier to get through. I guess he meant trails in some other county because he was completely against doing anything on the other side of Juvenile Center Rd. during the meeting, often smiling and winking at Mr Thompson.

I still do not understand the reason, because we were not given one. And I certainly don't like being condescended to. Especially since we get the same bullshit over and over, even though we went through this entire process before. They are wetlands. The area is not wetland mitigation for the jail because they pointed out these areas and they are not part of the park. It is wetlands, so what? The area we are riding in now is wetlands. It is merely a designation. We already worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and they had no issue with the existing side. Why would it be any different on the other side?

One day they may expand the jail and build a road through that area. So what? When that time comes, we'll work it out. We'll forfeit it. Put it in writing. I don't care. The point is that there is no reason why we can't use the land on the other side other than these people have zero interest in promoting parks, AND THIS IS THE PARKS DEPARTMENT!!!!!

I would love to see something in writing. But right now there is nothing. Nothing that says that the Cape Fear Cyclists builds and maintains the trails. EVERY MAJOR CITY IN NC HAS A PARK WITH AN AGREEMENT WITH A LOCAL CLUB!!!! Lake Crabtree & Beaver Dam in Raleigh, Country Park & Owl's Roost (which just added 4.5 miles of singletrack) in Greensboro, USNWC in Charlotte, etc. All of those trails are actively managed, yet we can't even get real signs.

There was one board member who really pushed for us, by the way. Thank God. It turns out his wife and kids use the park and they love it of course. NOBODY AT THAT MEETING HAD EVEN BEEN TO THE PARK!!!

No wonder why there is zero political will in this town for cycling. The County Commissioners are all about roads, more roads, and cement. I think they hate bicycles. Their attitude toward bikes is that they are playthings, not as legitimate transportation, but even then they don't want us to do that either. NCDOT owns the local roads so that conveniently absolves Wilmington and New Hanover County of doing anything to accommodate cyclists other than a token arrangement with the WMPO.

This is a place that had massive sewage spills wreaking havoc on the local environment. It took several large spills before they did anything about it, and only because they were going to be heavily fined by the Federal Government if they didn't clean it up and modernize it. There were no protests, nobody seemed to care. If this was CA there would be outrage.

New Hanover County does not recycle.

UNCW loves to bulldoze rare oak forests for more parking because it's just too convenient to drive and unsafe not to.

Market St. and College are two of the worst roads in the state for accidents, creating higher insurance costs for residents.

The County Commissioners gave taxpayer money to a dirty polluting industry to come here, Titan Cement. They also built a huge school campus only a couple miles away from the proposed plant, BEFORE rolling out the red carpet for the plant to come to New Hanover County and build right on the banks of the Cape Fear River. Kids and Mercury mix really well I hear. I smell corruption. Who is getting kickbacks here? I wonder if it has anything to do with the huge road projects planned for this area, despite all indications that we are now past the peak in fossil fuel production? Anyone look at GM stock lately? Anyone? Bueler?

There are no bike lanes on the roads, no way to get safely from neighborhoods to shops on a bike.

Their zoning laws are outdated, and their planning is a disaster. Planning? What's that? They design everything around the automobile, and then residents complain that there's not enough parking.

The bus system is an absolute joke. Public transportation? I hit a cyclist and dragged them under my SUV down Market.

I don't care if they read this. If they ever take the bike park away, I hope people riot, burn the place down, then move to western NC.

But I can tell you, they made is very clear that expanding the park is not going to happen. They barely even recognize the place. It's definitely not on the NHC Parks website. So that was the outcome of the meeting – a motion to recognize the existing trails on the other side of Juvenile Center Dr, and put it on the NHC website. And that wouldn't have even happened without the one board member backing us. Let's see how many years that takes.

Yeah, I could be more positive, because at least we got recognized for the trails that are there. However, there are some huge gaping holes in this project, and it has been left that way deliberately. And then there's the attitude – it's not a constructive, positive environment – like how can we make this happen. It's a "we've got our own secret agenda and who do you think you are?" attitude.

Right now, you can go to the beach and surf and go mountain biking in the same day. I could do that in CA. But now we can do it here. Wilmington is a better place to live because of this park, but these arrogant knaves can't even comprehend that. They just don't care. If the Parks Department doesn't get it, what hope do we have of ever getting more trails and places to ride?

[Disclaimer: is an independent, unaffiliated website, run by a single individual, me, whose opinions expressed are my own. It is not associated with any local club, nor is a club or other organization. does not build, maintain, manage, or endorse any trails, or sponsor any events. Any associations with local parks or clubs or other individuals are unintentional.]

Filed Under: General Entries > North Carolina > Wilmington

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1. lol said...

Jason Thompson is a F@#kin idot who couldn't buy a clue..this is from personal experience..

Mar 9, 2009 @ 4:40 AM

2. Michael said...

Seems like we hit the same obstacles whether we're discussing bike trails or bike paths to connect neighbor-hoods with everything else; the Parks Dept. and at least one County Commissioner have 0 interest in helping. If I can get support, I'll run next election. We need to stir things up! This same old thinking cannot continue. Yesterday out at B.C., I met people who drove down from J-ville to check out the park for the first time and there were many families with kids riding the trails including mine. What Neal probably doesn't understand is that so many people benefit from those trails in addition to avid Mt. Bikers. I think we should explore the Health Dept. and CDC more since the Parks Dept. appears to be a dead end right now. Attacking it from a healthier community perspective may put some pressure on the County. Perhaps even the Chamber of Commerce could offer support since people do come to Wilmington to use these trails. Just my thoughts.

Mar 9, 2009 @ 6:10 AM

3. Jay said...

Blue Clay probably gets more people per day than any other park in NHC. When I arrived Saturday morning, I had to park in the center of the parking lot because of all of the people there, and when I left 3hours later, it was still equally as packed.

Jason Thompson and Neal Lewis wouldn't know progress if it bit them in the ass. It's a shame that we have people like this in office....

Mar 9, 2009 @ 6:48 AM

4. IB said...

I agree with michael. This trail has gotten me and my friends more active than anything and if they bulldoze this park we would be bored out of our minds.

Mar 9, 2009 @ 2:14 PM

5. rider said...

Let's weigh this out.
We can stay off the land that is classified as wetlands by the Corps of Engineers for the future possibility of needing more jail space for our criminals. Cost to citizens of New Hanover Co is substantial for the expense of the jail. Loss to the environment because of loss of wetlands. Poor image of our community because we have to build a bigger jail.
Or ---
We can build bike trails with little to no impact on the wetlands that thousands of citizens get to enjoy with their family and can stay healthy by getting some exercise. Cost to the citizens of New Hanover is minimal to nothing out of pocket. No loss to the environment. Better image for our community by promoting our bike park with more trails.

This would be a huge opportunity lost if this land sits idle while waiting for the jail to come.

Mar 9, 2009 @ 2:43 PM

6. eric said...

new hanover county and wilmington hates bike people.

someone buy my house so i can leave. please.

Mar 9, 2009 @ 3:18 PM

7. Jeremy said...

This is the kind of thing that happens when we pool our local elected officials from the over abundance of home builders land developers, all with their own personal agendas and interests to look after.

How in the hell did that Nimrod Thompson ever get elected County Commissioner anyway? Seems like we would've gotten our fill of his bullshit as a City Councilman. Although, I guess you could ask the same thing about The Great Ron Hewitt and how his corruption went overlooked year after year. I believe we all know how that asshole's political career turned out. Perhaps this Thompson douche will share the same fate, I just hope it doesn't take 15 years this time.

Way to stick it to 'em SBA!

Mar 9, 2009 @ 5:56 PM

8. muleyo said...

Perhaps the county commissioners are concerned about trail expansion and the consequences thereof A) a healthier population, B) Disruption of endangered species,C) added tourist revenues, D) health issues arising from the increased riders under the mercury plume from Titan (aka Carolinas Cement Company E)They didn't come up with the Bike Park idea, F)Where's my kickback, G)Its Neil and Jason's treestand/slaughtering ground thats getting torn down H) they're worried Jason and Neil may go postal with their now rusting shootin irons and mtn bikers pose a challenging target I) i'm tired now and am hitting the sack

Mar 9, 2009 @ 5:57 PM

9. keith said...

What a bunch of s@*t! Yeah I went out saturday and it was packed, that's saying something for the area and trails. The place just rocks to me. I wish I could just buy a bunch of land let people build trails on it and give the city the finger!

Mar 9, 2009 @ 6:15 PM

10. Jeremy said...

I got it! The reason Thompson isn't paying Blue Clay any mind is because no one from the BC crowd has added him to their Myspace page!

Why didn't we think of this before? Someone needs get the guy who runs the blue clay Myspace page to send this prick an invite? Then once he approves us, were in! :)

Mar 9, 2009 @ 6:20 PM

11. Sir Race-A-Lot said...

It's my opinon that we the Cape Fear Cyclists club
need to hold a special meeting to come up with a game plan,protest plan,to save the park.We have got to get Mr.Lewis removed from his job or go to his boss,(county
manager)and demand he be removed.Noone holding a county position elected or hired should be allowed to basicly make
fun of three citizens at a public meeting trying to do
something good for the community with only one benifit
in mind(Exercise).These people work for us,they seem to
forget that.(B.C. let it be)

Mar 9, 2009 @ 7:50 PM

12. sirtoots said...

We need to continue to spread the word on this issue to everyone you see at the park,running or biking.

When we find out the date that we are on the next county meeting to get this next step of park development approved, we nned to show how this park as changed lives in this community.
Everyone bring their kids, mother, father, sufficicant other, show up, be there, including the media for A BIG TURN OUT FOR A POSITIVE OUTCOME please.

Power can come in numbers. We need the active community of Wilmington and surronding areas to show support for this important issue. We need more trails for the good of the park, the land was designated such at the original county board meeting. We are just asking to utilize it.

Mar 9, 2009 @ 8:39 PM

13. Reno said...

It would be cool to have t-shirts that read, "I Bike at Blue Clay"

Mar 10, 2009 @ 9:48 AM

14. sam renzulli said...

i think it wuld be really cool if we got nut-hugger pants. they really turn me on when guys where them!!!

Mar 10, 2009 @ 12:57 PM

15. pc said...

Could we possibly be thankful for the trails we have...?

Mar 10, 2009 @ 1:08 PM

16. Randy said...

What does sufficicant mean ?

Mar 10, 2009 @ 2:50 PM

17. Randy's alter ego said...

I think he meant significant other.

Mar 10, 2009 @ 5:27 PM

18. Cyclemaniac said...

First of all Jason Thompson is an IDIOT. You must understand what you are dealing with. He is the same person who said, concerning the poor manning of the city fire department apparatus which affects their ability to help the citizens, “We can’t save them all.(speaking of the citizens in life or death situations)” If this is how he feels about the citizens he represents and elected him why should he give a crap about trails. You have to find a way to work around him because if he is not going to profit from the venture, either financially or politically, he will not support it. Maybe get on the Big Talker with Curtis Wright and discuss our dilemma.

Mar 10, 2009 @ 8:05 PM

19. Van-Go said...

We're seeing some disturbing trends in this county:

1) convention center that most do not want - being shoved down our throats
2) Titan being invited against the will of the people
3) My own losing battle trying to keep a 12 screen movie theater out of a residential neighborhood - where we were belittled and condascended to by Thompson at a Commish meeting.
4) This issue about the trails and thumbing their nose at a modest, but still a significant group, trying to improve a county park.

I'm not sure what this council stands for - what is becomming more apparent is that it is not for the quality of life and the improvement of our communities.

Mar 11, 2009 @ 7:45 AM

20. Michael said...

That is why we have to get more involved and get one of our own in the county office.

Mar 11, 2009 @ 8:01 AM

21. jc said...

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Lord Acton 1887

Mar 11, 2009 @ 10:29 AM

22. runner of trails said...

How much distance could be added to existing trail with expansion to the west side?

Mar 11, 2009 @ 11:50 AM

23. dirt is my friend said...

Thompson doesn't care about anything he can't make a buck on. It's all about being self absorbed. He can't own the land so why should anybody else get any kind of joy out of using it? He should be ashamed, but he's too dirty to care. It's all about the politics and the money. Dirty dirty dirty in all corrupt ways.

Mar 11, 2009 @ 1:46 PM

24. MTB Man said...

The voice of the people must be heard!! Ralley with all families and friends of the cycling community to the next county board meeting!!! When is it and where? Please post it ASAP, so we may spread the word!

Mar 11, 2009 @ 4:46 PM

25. JD said...

This is bullshit. Nobody cares about the little guy here in Wilmington. I live in Northchase and im stuck riding in a circle because there is no safe way to leave here on a bike.
I just lost almost 20 pounds riding at Blue Clay and god knows that if we had a few more trails I could lose even more. They always seem to shit the bed when it comes to helping there citizens
Well we have The Wilmington Convention Center to look forward to. Maybe there will be a bike expo there. Im gonna take a bus there....but only during the week because the bus doesnt run to Northchase on the weekend. Maybe ill hitch a ride on one of the titan cement trucks.

Screw the NHC Commish

Mar 12, 2009 @ 7:32 PM

26. Lady Grace said...

Read and investigate carefully....This was not approved nor disapproved...just moved to a Co. Commissioner's meeting. Just show positive support for moving forward and the co commissioners will vote on the voting public's side.

Mar 12, 2009 @ 7:40 PM


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