WHEN THE NOTION of a greenway along the Gwynns Falls stream valley was first proposed, many dismissed it as a nice ideas that would never materialize. Ye of little faith! With $2.3 million of the 14-mile trail's estimated $7.4 million cost secured, construction of the first phase is scheduled to begin next year.
That first five-mile section will stretch from Franklintown, in Leakin Park, to the edges of Edmondson Village thanks to funding sources such as the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund and a federal transportation program.
The second and third phase, scheduled to be constructed in 1997 and 1998, will continue the hiking and biking trails through Carroll Park to the Inner Harbor and the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River.
Much planning has gone to this project. To make the greenway undertaking better known among Baltimore area residents, several events have been scheduled this autumn.
A Gwynns Falls Trail Festival will be held from noon until 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Carrie Murray Outdoor Education Campus, at Franklintown Road near Wetheredsville Road. There will be one-hour hiking tours, story telling, live music, games for children and environmental education activities.
Three other events will follow: a tree planting along the Gwynns Falls stream Oct. 7, a family festival at Leakin Park's Crimea Mansion Oct. 14 and a three-mile walk along the initial stretch designated for the greenway.
The start of Baltimore's greenway project comes 90 years after the concept was first proposed by the Olmsted brothers, sons of the great American landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted They said the Gwynns Falls valley "has the character of a wooded gorge; the scenery is remarkably beautiful, of a picturesque and sylvan sort seldom possible to retain so near a great city."
This is as true today as it was in at the time of their 1904 report.
Greenways have become very popular in those Maryland counties where they are part of the park system. The same can become true in Baltimore City if enough citizens get involved in this exciting project.