Growing Our Parks and Greenways

Growing Our Parks and Greenways

Ask county commissioners for increased funding

Growing our Parks and Greenways is an initiative to highlight the many benefits of parks, greenways, nature preserves, and recreation centers by amplifying the voices of Mecklenburg County residents and organizations advocating for equitable and expedited construction of our county Park & Recreation network.

Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Commission members, Sustain Charlotte, Partners for Parks, and Carolina Thread Trail are working together to organize and advance this initiative. Each of our organizations is committed to sustainable urban development and improved, equitable access to public open space for all. We invite and actively encourage individuals and groups within the community to join us in supporting this effort.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Greenway Map Screenshot

Get to know our Greenway System

This map of the Mecklenburg County Greenway network was created in 2023 by Sustain Charlotte in partnership with AARP with the specific goal of serving you! Click the link below for information on how to best use this map.

What are we advocating for in 2024?

This year, we are asking county commissioners to support several initiatives.

Support all of the staff-recommended Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) FY2029 projects

  • Parks and Nature Preserves: $20.7M
    • Campbell Creek Park
    • Derita Park
    • Julian Underwood Park
    • Wayfinding
  • Greenways: $30.2M
    • Little Sugar Creek Greenway (Parkwood Underpass)
    • Sugar Creek Greenway (McDowell Farms Dr. to Arrowood Rd.)
    • Irwin Creek Greenway (Crestridge to Sugar to Sugar Creek Greenway Yorkmont Rd)
  • Greenways with Community Partnerships: $23.3M
    • Irwin Creek Greenway (Clanton to Crestridge)
    • Irwin Creek Greenway (Hamilton to Ex Irwin Creek Greenway Rays Splash Planet)
  • McDowell Creek Greenway (Catawba Ave to Westmoreland Rd)
Parkwood Underpass on Little Sugar Creek Greenway
The Parkwood Underpass on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is constantly flooded. Increased funding will fix this!

Sustain momentum for land acquisition by budgeting at least $50M, but ideally $75M, in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to increase land available for additional parks, greenways, nature preserves, and recreation centers

  • Each of the past two years, the Commission has approved $50M for land acquisition -- a significant increase over previous years.
  • Continuing to acquire land for future facilities as quickly as possible is urgent because available land is becoming scarcer and more expensive.

Support funding for new staff positions as identified in the MeckPlaybook and requested by staff for FY2025.

  • As programs and projects are added at an increased rate, Park & Recreation staff are taking on more work than ever.
  • Strategically adding staff capacity will ensure that Park & Recreation staff can continue their good work and complete funded projects in a timely manner.

Increase funding for maintenance of Park & Recreation properties, both developed and undeveloped.

  • As the number of Park & Recreation properties has increased, so has the need for maintenance. However, current annual funding is not sufficient to keep up with maintenance needs.

Invest with equity 

  • Invest with equity by prioritizing communities that have historically been under-invested in and prioritize projects that will close gaps in the network to increase connectivity and access as recommended in the Meck Playbook.

Determine and provide resources

  • Determine and provide the resources needed to substantially complete the Greenway Master Plan by 2035.

Why act now?

We had a great group for our walk along the greenway.

Our parks and greenways have not grown fast enough to keep up with the needs of current residents.

Residents have consistently shown a desire for more parks, greenways, nature preserves, and recreation centers, yet we have fallen behind in achieving past goals set by Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation.

Now is the time to buy land for future parks, greenways, and nature preserves.

 As a result of continued population growth and land development, available land is shrinking and becoming more expensive.  It’s important for Mecklenburg County to purchase land for future parks, greenways, and nature preserves while it’s still available and less expensive.

Charlotte Greenway Sign
AARP Growing Our Greenways 1

Investment decisions are currently being made. 

County leaders decide on how much funding to provide Park and Recreation during the annual budgeting season, which is underway now.

Parks and green spaces provide numerous health, environmental, economic, and social benefits. Read more about the benefits in this Carolina Thread Trail report.

Green spaces have economic benefits.

The economic benefits of investing in parks and greenways exceed the cost of investment, and some greenway projects have generated $10 for every $1 invested. 


Here’s a report on the economic benefits of the Park & Recreation system of Mecklenburg County.

People running along Long Creek Greenway
Greenway and Charlotte Skyline

Our community mobility and sustainability depend on it.

 A Harvard economic mobility study indicates that commute time is a significant predictor of improved economic mobility. Investing in parks and greenways greatly enhances not just accessibility for more residents, but also mental and physical health, low-cost and carbon-free transportation choices, sustainable development, opportunities for environmental tourism, and increased property values and tax bases.

Public open space is a critical component of public infrastructure.

Parks, greenways, and green places connect communities, both physically and mentally. Neighborhoods that have access to parks and greenways are often safer, more vibrant, and have a stronger connection to their community.

People biking along greenway

How can you help? 

  • Add your voice. Sign this petition to let us and your Mecklenburg County leaders know you support these recommendations. Our goal is 1,500 signatures.
  • Spread the word. Share this page with your network and encourage them to sign the petition too or reach out directly to their county commissioners.
  • Invite your friends. Bring folks in your circle to park and greenways advocacy events and share information with them about why now is the time for action. These will be posted at on our events page.
  • Donate. Offer your financial support to local groups that are advocating for this work, including Sustain Charlotte, Partners for Parks, and Carolina Thread Trail.