Learn more about the Belden Trail here.
Belden Connect is an extension of the existing mile-long Belden Trail that will run from Palm Boulevard and connect to 6th Street in downtown Brownsville. With funding from the City of Brownsville, it will reactivate another stretch of the abandoned railroad easement before turning onto Old Alice Road, where there will be a dedicated bike and pedestrian lane that is safely separated from vehicular traffic. The amenities from the existing trail, which range from custom benches, trash cans, native vegetation and pavilions will continue onto the extension. The connection to downtown will link the Belden Trail to the Mitte Cultural District and the Historic Battlefield Trail.
On Monday, May 18, [bc] organized the first community meeting with residents and business owners adjacent to the proposed trail extension. At the meeting, neighbors and business owners voiced their opinion on the location of the trail, the type of program they wanted, and other design priorities. We learned that the group was very excited about a potential outdoor dining area behind the local restaurants on the trail and have incorporated space for that to happen in the future. They also preferred to have the trail moving away from the backyards of residents, leaving space for new wildflowers, grasses and trees.
On May 28, [bc] held a second community meeting regarding the design of the new trail extension. The meeting took place at the Pavilion, located at the end of the Belden Trail, so attendees could reflect on what they liked about the current trail. Attendees then walked down the proposed trail path to give their feedback. We coordinated the event with a bike ride organized by the Brownsville Bike Brigade and invited local wellness groups, recreational advocacy groups and bike enthusiasts. Approximately 30 - 40 community members participated in the meeting.
The May 28 event kicked off with an exercise to understand what people liked and disliked about the existing Belden Trail and other trails in the area. We learned that people love the smooth pavement, easy access and social aspect of the trail -- however, they also want more connections to major sites around town, more shade and better methods for dealing with graffiti and litter.
The community prioritized the pavilion, bench locations and bike racks. The group also voted on vegetation types and tree species, showing a strong preference for wildflowers and native grasses over mown grass. We also solicited ideas on how we could use the old railroad infrastructure as the base of a public art piece that serves to beautify while also slowing vehicle traffic. The group cited murals, placemaking signage, interactive lights to calm traffic and several other great ideas.