Chapel Hill’s Greenways form an extensive trail network throughout the Town and currently include approximately 4.5 miles of paved trail and 7.6 miles of natural surface trail. The Town’s 2006 Greenways Master Plan identifies over 28 miles of potential trails to be built within the Town. Once finished, the system will act as both a recreation and transportation network that will link most areas of Town. Three paved trail extensions are currently in various phases of development: Morgan Creek Trail, Bolin Creek Trail, and Dry Creek Trail. In accordance with the Town’s Percent for Art Ordinance and a Town Council resolution, one percent of the budget for these three trail extensions was budgeted to fund a public art project for the Greenways.
In the fall of 2008 qualifications were received from local, regional and national artists and artist teams interested in the project. An Artist Selection Committee comprising members of the Greenways and Public Arts commissions, the landscape design firms working on the Greenways, Town Council, The Office of Storm Water Management, The Parks & Recreation Department, as well as a local artist and arts administrator, reviewed qualifications, interviewed candidates, and selected Durham-based artist Alvin Frega for the project. Frega's selection was endorsed by the Public Arts Commission and approved by Town Council in December of 2008. Frega began work at the beginning of 2009 and the project was completed in 2011.
During the Residency phase of this project Frega conducted research, toured the Greenways, and held meetings and public events beginning in February of 2009 and ending in September of 2009. Participating stakeholders included the Greenways and Public Arts commissions, the Parks & Recreation Department and other Town divisions, relevant community and neighborhood organizations, and members of the general public. Frega also worked with the Greenways' landscape design firms: Lappas and Havener, and Coulter, Jewel and Thames. Discussions with these groups informed Frega's vision for the project.
On October 7, 2009, Frega presented concept designs and models of prototype public art features and amenities to the project's Oversight Committee, which is composed of members of the Greenways and Public Arts commissions, the Greenways' landscape design firms, Town Council, the departments of Public Works and Parks & Recreation, and the Manager's Office. Of the concepts presented, the Oversight Committee recommended Frega proceed with designing benches of recycled, carved and tinted concrete and recycled bus brake drums, "sentinels" made of recycled bus brake drums, and bike racks of recycled bus break drums. Each prototype is designed so that future ones may be replicated by the Town and in accordance with submitted designs.
On January 11, 2010 Frega presented designs at a Town Council meeting for public comment. On March 13, 2010 Frega's design documents were approved by the Oversight Committee. On April 22, 2010 the Oversight Committee approved Frega's construction documents and authorized him to proceed with fabricating and installing the following prototypes at these locations, which were all completed by the fall of 2011:
3 bike racks and 3 sentinels at the Bolin Creek trailhead on the east side of Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd.
1 sentinel and 1 bike rack at the Cafe Driade trail entry to the Bolin Creek Trail.
3 benches along Bolin Creek Trail near Elizabeth Street and Cafe Driade entries.
In addition to the aforementioned prototypes funded by this Percent For Art project, Frega has also installed 4 benches at at the Bolin Creek trailhead on the east side of Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd, under a separate contract funded by a North Carolina Arts Council grant (see photo below).
More recently Frega has also designed and installed 2 gates and 1 bench on/near Morgan Creek trail and Culbreth Road, and 4 bike racks in Merritt Mill Pasture that use the same materials and style, but were funded outside of this Percent for Art Project.