By Morgan Bryce
Increasing the connectivity of various Opelika parks and points of interest within the city is the goal of “The Creekline Project,” an initiative led by the husband-and-wife team of Rocky and Shealy Langley.
The couple addressed members of the Opelika City Council with their idea during its regular meeting last Tuesday night, proposing the construction of more than 13 miles of shared-use, ADA-accessible paths.
By working in tandem with existing and proposed bike paths, Shealy said the project would provide Opelika residents a safer means to exercise and explore their city.
“At the heart of this project is (a desire) to connect the city. By foot or by bike, it’s not easy to get around Opelika,” Shealy said. “What is different about this project than a bicycle plan for the city are those shared-use paths, essentially nature trails, that will run through wooded areas and along some of Opelika’s beautiful creek systems.”
Inspired by similar installations used in cities including Atlanta, Greenville and Houston, the Langleys are currently working to finish conceptualizing for the project in hopes of incorporating it into the City of Opelika’s soon-to-be-revised master plan in 2019.
Boundaries for the proposed project extend from the Opelika Sportsplex to the Pepperell Mill Village and Opelika Wood Duck Heritage Preserve and Siddique Nature Park along Waverly Parkway. Paths would also run along the Pepperell Branch, Rocky Brook and Saugahatchee Creek water systems.
Shirley Lazenby, president of the Opelika Bicycle Advisory Committee, said she believes the project would be a benefit to the city for generations to come.
“This is such a well thought-out and organized plan. It’s as if we’ve gotten a consultant to inventory our city and make recommendations for free,” Lazenby said. “For those who may not be willing to walk, bike or push a stroller, having something like this I believe will encourage them to get out and have a more active lifestyle, a benefit for everyone here in Opelika.”
A byproduct of the conversation surrounding The Creekline Project is the renewed discussion of constructing a park in the historic Pepperell Mill Village, Rocky added, a development that the City of Opelika’s Planning Department will evaluate in the future.
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller shared his support for The Creekline Project, but said he believes obtaining permission from property owners who own land along those creeks and streams could be a major hurdle for the project as its planning moves ahead.
“I love the idea of The Creekline (Project). (But) I suspect the cost for something like this will be substantial and will involve a lot of work,” Fuller said. “Property owners have to be identified and approached about their land being used for this. Hopefully, we can find a way to get started and develop this in phases over a period of time.”
Rocky cited Opelika’s rapid growth and expansion as other reasons for why the project is so desperately needed.
“We love Opelika for its size, history and the people who live here. We want families who live here to want to stay here and those looking for a new city to call Opelika home,” Rocky said. “We want employers to come here to help with (economic development) and feel comfortable about their employees living and working here. The city has done a great job, and we feel that this project will just add on to that.”
For more information, updates or to view maps of the project, like and follow “The Creekline & Pepperell Park Project” Facebook page. Those wishing to assist the Langleys with the project can message the project’s page for details on how to get involved.