Wake County Parks

Wake Commissioner Chair of New National Committee on Parks, Green Space

Wake County, NC – With thousands of acres of parks and hundreds of miles of greenways, Wake County is one of the leading parks communities in the country. Now, Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson will be the chair of a new national committee, looking at preserving and creating parks, trails and open space around the United States.

Parks and Greenways Across the Country

Hutchinson will be the first chair of the National Association of Counties‘ Parks, Open Space and Trails Subcommittee, serving for a one-year period. He described himself as a parks advocate for more than 20 years and was asked by the national association’s leadership to lead this new subcommittee.

“I feel we have one of the best greenway systems in the country,” Hutchinson said. “In this new role, we’re going to be working to figure out best practices to preserve green space.”

The subcommittee met for the first time earlier this year and Hutchinson said funding parks and greenways was the top discussion topic.

“A lot of the things we explore is understanding the value of these assets and how they can benefit a community,” Hutchinson said. “When we met in Washington, DC, there were around 40 county commissioners from around the country there, and what I saw was, Wake County is on the cutting edge. That’s best represented by the new funds we’ve passed for our parks.”

Hutchinson, right, with members of the Morrisville Town Council, breaking ground on the Crabtree-Hatcher Creek Greenway in April 2017.

Benefits of Parks

While large parks projects are easily recognizable landmarks, Hutchinson said Wake County’s greenway system is one of the county’s best amenities that often gets overlooked

“We have one of the best greenway systems but no one knows it,” Hutchinson said, contrasting it with Charlotte’s smaller but more widely known greenway network.

Hutchinson said greenways are a “linear park” and the county is working to market them better to the public while also expanding and connecting the greenways.

“The plan is to develop a regional vision and connect greenways, within Wake County and with neighboring counties,” he said.

Parks and green space also benefit the communities, Hutchinson said, through the preservation of clean air and clean water.

“One of the best ways to protect our water is to secure green space,” he said.

Having a network of parks, greenways and open green space also helps local wildlife, Hutchinson said, by giving them a corridor to travel through.

“When you put an interstate down, you cut off those wildlife corridors,” he said.

Hutchinson has previously served on the National Association of Counties’ Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) Steering Committee and the Healthy Counties Initiative Advisory Board.

Wake County Parks

Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Michael Papich and Wake County.

10 replies
  1. David M Shouse
    David M Shouse says:

    Congratulations Sig, I know you will represent the area well! I have personal knowledge of his tireless advocacy over many decades for all open space issues, but especially greenway lands and trails. He was an early proponent of mountain biking, convincing reluctant land managers to try this new adventure in the ’80’s and ’90’s. I know of his relentless phone calls and attendance at committee and board meetings supporting better conservation of floodplains, leadership on general obligation bond funding and specifically Raleigh’s 110+ miles of off-road trails, in particular connecting inside-the-beltline with the Art Museum and beyond. Think of the unfortunate quarry battle in the context of the larger efforts, and his leadership presence. Perhaps if the RDU Forest effort had been less all-park-no-quarry we’d have part of something instead of all of nothing out there. Sig knows and understands the larger open space effort in the long run. Respectfully, DS, retired park manager, planner, administrator and lifelong outdoor rec enthusiast.

  2. David E. Carter
    David E. Carter says:

    I have known and worked with Sig for over 24 years in the preservation of Open Space in Wake County. As the former director of Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space, I can honestly say that Wake County would not be a national leader without the leadership of Sig. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for my old friend and wish him well. Your negative comments are way off base. You have no idea what he has done for this county, I do. Before you disparage a person, please do some research. You do not have to agree with him, but without his efforts I promise you Wake County would still be in the dark ages as far as open space is concerned. Thank you Sig.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Oh, I’ve worked with Sig. he was briefly the president of our mountain bike club. That didn’t last long.

  3. Matt
    Matt says:

    On the bright side maybe Sig will leave our local region alone. This man is a pompous blowhard and greenspace is just a marketing term he uses. Sell out stakeholders, make a press release proclaiming what a win it is for the community, put a check mark on the resume…. don’t worry about the fact that the community actually loses, and the supposed benefits he mentions never come to pass.

  4. Tamara
    Tamara says:

    I wonder if this appointment is Sig’s reward for turning his back on his entire base, Umstead State Park and our local greenspace through his support of the quarry. Sig’s only INTEREST is Sig, he no longer advocates for us. #SAVERDUFOREST #NOSIGIN2020

  5. Randy
    Randy says:

    Mmmmm I guess so —– barring Sig’s support of a GIANT new hole in the ground next to Umstead that will also have see massive trucks in/out daily, blasting mine noise and pollution to the Crabtree water source. Seems like a odd definition of “Green Space”. As noted above “Parks and green space also benefit the communities, Hutchinson said, through the preservation of clean air and clean water. ‘One of the best ways to protect our water is to secure green space,’ he said”

    • Clif
      Clif says:

      Apparently, that’s Sig’s new definition of ‘Green Space’. I’m still in disbelief that he supports the new quarry right against Umstead State Park.

  6. Brent
    Brent says:

    Sig Hutchinson has worked tirelessly to preserve open space for decades. Congrats to him on this important appointment!

    • Natalie Lew
      Natalie Lew says:

      Maybe Sig has worked tirelessly for the past decades, but his current status is not pro greenspace. Sig has switched sides recently. He has openly supported allowing a private corporation (Wake Stone) putting a rock quarry on the Odd Fellows tract of land. This land is directly adjacent to 1) Umstead State Park, 2) Crabtree Creek ,3) private homes, and 3) a main greenway connection between Raleigh and Cary/Morrisville. The land was taken by the airport from private citizens in the 1970’s under guise it was needed for a runway. That was abandoned. Now, the airport wants to allow a private company to supposedly lease the land for a rock quarry. This is not a lease it is a sale. Wake Stone gets to rent land and sell it off truck load by truck load. They make lots and lots of money and give the airport a teeny tiny fraction of that money and then give the public a hole in the ground after 40 or so years. There are many other questionable aspects of this lease such as the lease not accounting for inflation. The picture Wake Stone, Sig, and the RDUAA paint of what the hole in the ground will be is not accurate. Also, given the growth of the area, we need green space now, not in 40 or 50 years.

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