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Construction courtesy
Next phase of greenway held up by rule breakers
Big Creek Phase I 3
Workers with J.J.E. Constructors dig holes for a fence along the greenway near the intersection of Majors Road and Atlanta Highway. - photo by Emily Saunders
What’s next

Another meeting about public safety on the Big Creek Greenway in Forsyth County is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Sharon Springs Park.
Authorities are asking for courtesy as well as safety along the Big Creek Greenway.

During a meeting  Wednesday with residents, Forsyth County Park Ranger Dennis Purcell said the next phase of the trail, from Hwy. 9 to McFarland Road, should be complete by month’s end.

The addition, which will lengthen the local stretch of greenway to 7 miles, could have been finished sooner, Purcell said, were it not for visitors encroaching on construction.

“It’s not open yet,” Purcell said. “We still have so many people walking on [that part of] the trail, though it is posted closed, that construction workers can’t even get their job done.

“The project probably would’ve already been open if they stayed off the trail.”

Purcell cautioned visitors against using the trail when it’s closed.

Rangers and Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies patrol the greenway as often as possible, he said, and the parks department is considering training volunteers to work as trail safety monitors.

He said the trail should be avoided during bad weather. At other times, visitors should use the buddy system when on the path.

Sheriff’s Deputy Pete Sabella also stressed the dangers of being alone and isolated on the trail during the meeting, which was held at the sheriff’s north precinct on Keith Bridge Road.

He also recommended cyclists, walkers and joggers carry pepper spray and their cell phones while exercising.

As a precautionary tale, Sabella discussed the case of Meredith Emerson.

The 24-year-old Buford woman was abducted Jan.1, 2008, while hiking alone at Vogel State Park. Her decapitated body was found Jan. 7 in Dawson Forest.

Forsyth County resident Joann Hohmann said she uses the greenway regularly and often takes her dogs along.

She said she came to the meeting because safety is important.

“I thought if there’s something out there that I need to be aware of, beyond the logical steps, I need to know,” she said. “I’ve been going [to the greenway] since it opened.”

Hohmann said she has talked with Purcell several times at other parks.

“I figured if he was here it was going to be a serious meeting,” she said. “It wasn’t a PR meeting.”