Even the founders of much lauded projects like The High Line and The Atlanta BeltLine admit that they have failed the existing community.

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“We believe that who the Atlanta BeltLine is built for is just as important as whether it is built at all."

Ryan Gravel, Founder of the Atlanta BeltLine and Nathaniel Smith, Chief Equity Officer at Partnership for Southern Equity in their resignation letter from the Atlanta Belt Line board

We were from the community. We wanted to do it for the neighborhood. Ultimately, we failed.... I wish we’d asked, ‘What can we do for you?’ Because people have bigger problems than design.

Robert Hammond, founder of New York's The High Line

This displacement has been documented by quantitative research. Barcelona Laboratory for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability has documented this issue calling green parks developed without community want, GREENLULUS. Their 5 year quantitative study, Green Trajectories, they look at the effects of greening and equity in 50 global cities over a 25 years span.

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Federal funding for the Durham Belt Line park was provided by a Federal TIGER grant in 2014, with the promise of providing 'Ladders of Opportunity' for those without access to public transit and from communities that have suffered from a legacy of redlining and disinvestment. A project that does not provide that, and instead creates "Ladders of Displacement" for those who do not own a vehicle is a misuse of funding.

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~The Opportunity~

Durham is still in the midst of a master planning process for the BeltLine park. There is still an opportunity to organize and shape the way the space is developed in way that is equitable and truly sustainable if the community is aware of the project and can help control the outcomes. 

The Durham BeltLine masterplan draft was released on April 25.

You can view it here: www.durhambeltline.com

Please share this upcoming development with your community, submit comments to the planning committee and also to the City.

The precedents of inequality from other Belt Line parks have attracted funding and investment from a wide range of philanthropists, and could in Durham as well.

The development of the park creates an opportunity for cross agency and interdisciplinary thinking and truly sustainable solutions to create a Durham that works for all.

Map by Tim Stallman at Bull City 150

Map by Tim Stallman at Bull City 150

The Durham Belt Line is intended to become a 40 plus mile bike loop which connects all the way to Cary and around the triangle.