The Friends of Greenville Greenways (FROGGS), founded in 2004, initially began as part of the Greenville Greenways Committee (GGC). The GGC was created under former city planner Libby Anderson to propose a greenway plan during the 1980s. Chairs of the GGC included Barney Kane, Vincent Bellis (still a member of the FROGGS board today), Jon Day, and Charles Farley.

In 1985, City Council held a hearing at which citizens requested development of a greenway to facilitate bicycle traffic between student apartments and campus, to provide a space for outdoor exercise, and to preserve forest habitat in the city. Following the hearing, a sum between $30,000 and $50,000 was budgeted to hire a contractor to prepare a greenway master plan for the city. It was at this stage that Greenways Inc., the leading greenway planning firm in the country, was hired to design the plan.

In 1991 the staff of Greenways Inc. proposed the first Master Plan, which included a greenway support group composed of citizens to advocate for greenway improvements. Greenways Inc. also suggested the catchy name 'FROGGS (Friends of Greenville Greenways),' which still serves as the name of the organization today. The GGC requested that one individual in the planning department be designated as greenways coordinator. This job would entail finding potential grant or other funding sources and preparing grant proposals in a timely fashion in order to meet grant deadlines and to provide quality proposals.

Bellis recalls, "We further requested that three of the Greenway segments defined in the 1991 Greenway Master Plan be worked up as proposals. One high cost (millions of dollars), one medium cost ($100,000) and one low cost (under $50,000). If this were done, Greenville would always have a proposal ready to meet any deadline, for any size grant offering. Prior to this the planning department would begin the grant proposal process only after the grants were offered. In the past, we had never been able to meet deadlines with quality proposals."

The First Greenway The first Greenway, Green Mill Run, which connects Green Springs Park on Fifth Street with Elm Street Park and baseball field on South Elm Street, was completed in 1995. When greenways were first constructed, Greenway planning was a joint effort of the Greenville Public Works Department (city engineers) and the Planning Department. Greenville Recreation and Parks later become involved after the initial stages of greenway planning had been completed.

By 2001, the 1991 Greenway Master Plan had become outdated. New city leadership, in the form of a city manager and new City Council, agreed that a master plan revision was needed. A revision was also needed because Greenville had grown significantly during the 1990s. New residents and new students at ECU, many from cities with excellent greenways and bikeways, expressed a strong desire for such facilities in Greenville. "These folks have been the greenways' most avid users and supporters," says Bellis, and as a result, the City Council in 2002 funded an update to the Greenway Master plan, which was completed in 2004.

In 2003, FROGGS founder Jill Twark joined the GGC and, taking up the city planners' suggestion to found a nonprofit organization like that recommended in the Master Plan, stepped up, gathered a group of avid greenway supporters, and proposed the idea of a FROGGS organization. The City of Greenville had designated planning responsibilities as part of the job description of planning department staff members. Nonetheless, Twark organized public events and lobbied city officials to advocate for greenways to be constructed according to the 2004 Master Plan. FROGGS grew rapidly under her leadership and several new segments were added to the greenway system. Upon completion of the first Tar River Greenway segment in 2008, the city Planning Department took over greenway planning and operations, and the GGC was disbanded.

FROGGS continues to work to promote and elevate the quality of life for all citizens by maintaining existing greenways, planning expansions, and encouraging local communities and businesses to join in their advocacy for viable, environmentally conscious recreation and transportation opportunities.

Bellis, Vincent. Interview by Cecilia Lindsay. Email interview. Greenville, April 4, 2013.



Marianne Montgomery - Membership Coordinator Marianne currently works as an English professor at ECU. She became involved with FROGGS in 2007 after meeting then chair Jill Twark through ECU's Environment Committee. After serving as FROGGS' membership coordinator, Marianne then went on to become Chair in 2010. She is focused on greenway expansion: "My hope is that in three to five years we will be celebrating the extension of the South Tar River Greenway west to the hospital and east to Port Terminal Road. I also hope the city will revise the Greenway master plan to identify greenway routes running north-south and crossing the river." Her favorite FROGGS memory is of the opening of the South Tar River Greenway Phase II at Greensprings Park in June 2011: "The South Tar River Greenway has hugely increased greenway awareness and created a strong constituency of greenway users to advocate for future expansion."

Harry Stubbs - Chair Harry serves as Chair of FROGGS. He was born and raised in Greenville and went on to graduate from East Carolina University. He worked for 30 years with the U.S. Federal Government with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Following his retirement in 2011, devoted Pirates fan Harry returned to Greenville and became involved in FROGGS when he attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Phase II of the South Tar River Greenway. It was there that he met FROGGS board members and learned of their great volunteering efforts on behalf of pedestrians and cyclists and their need for additional volunteers. In three to five years Harry hopes to see FROGGS' successful opening of the Charles Boulevard to Evans Street connector and the Phase III greenway connecting the Town Common with Vidant-ECU medical and academic campuses. He recalls the Mayoral and City Council Candidate Forum as a memorable moment of his time with FROGGS: “We were very useful in helping our fellow citizens learn ideas and levels of commitment all candidates have as we move our quality of life forward, chief among them greenway development and enhancement."

Vincent Bellis - Treasurer Vince came to Greenville in 1966 to teach biology at ECU, where he worked for 23 years before retiring as Professor Emeritus. Vince has been involved with the greenways since the 1970s, having served as the Chair of the Greenville Greenways Committee that helped to produce the original Greenville Greenways Master Plan in 1990. Vince serves as treasurer and also spearheads FROGGS' interpretive signage project, which has placed two signs on the greenway and will be adding several more in the next year.

Jill Twark - Volunteer Coordinator Hailing from Kent, Ohio, Jill IS AN Associate Professor of German at ECU. Jill is one of the original founders of FROGGS and served as Chair from 2005-2010. Jill currently coordinates student volunteers and maintains the kiosks along the greenway, keeping them updated with maps, photographs, and announcements. She would like to see FROGGS work together with local businesses to help the city fund the construction of more bicycle lanes and Greenways: "Greenville is growing fast and everyone should have access to greenways for getting to work and exercising."

Brad Beggs - Webmaster Brad works as the Assistant Director of Adventure Programs for ECU's Campus Recreation & Wellness department. Brad believes in three to five years FROGGS will be a national model for bringing quality greenways to Greenville and surrounding regions: "Greenways are a vital element for any city to prosper and stay healthy (physically, emotionally, and economically). Greenville needed folks who are willing to champion for greenways and make them happen. As an educator and outdoor educational professional, they can also be used for my work." Brad currently works with Jill to coordinate FROGGS' student volunteers and serves as FROGGS' webmaster.

Alvin Gardner - Community Networker Alvin was drawn to Greenville, North Carolina for its bicycle moto-cross community (BMX). He currently works with after-school program Building Hope in their Recycle Bike Shop. Alvin has spent years traveling all across the United States riding bikes and greenways, but he admits that after riding the greenways of Greenville he felt moved to help improve and expand them. He would enjoy seeing FROGGS develop trails of its own. He has had great fun walking future greenway trails, getting to know the people that made FROGGS possible, and making a brighter future for Greenville.

Peat Barnett - Photographer Peat is currently a semi-retired architectural draftsman. A desire to contribute to his new community and home drew Peat to become involved with FROGGS. Regarding future hopes for the organization Peat would like to see FROGGS help the city develop safe walking and biking paths throughout Greenville, therein eliminating the need to compete with automobiles while traveling the streets. Peat offers the following regarding his experiences with FROGGS: "I have greatly enjoyed meeting new people who take pride in Greenville and are interested in making it a more beautiful and enjoyable city to live in."

Elizabeth Dixon - Publicity and Graphic Design

Adam Linker – Secretary


Dr. Earl Trevathan’s speech at the recent Earth Day celebration in Greenville, NC. Dr. Trevathan has been a supporter and benefactor of Greenville Greenways from the beginning. 

Over two billion people the world over, in some way, are celebrating Earth Day. We are here today in common cause, to enjoy the fellowship, share our interest, and learn what is needed to save our planet. Sixty years ago, I was a very uninformed resident of this community, knowing very little about the environmental issues that were beginning to be written about and or discussed in academic settings.

Parks, recreational areas, and playgrounds were hardly existent. A tree ordinance and greenways were not heard of. No one wanted to be called a “Tree Hugger.” In fact, “environmentalism” was a negative word. One had to shelter such interest. But today we see progress being made in all spheres of concern to sustain our planet. That is our theme for this year’s Earth Day.

In these brief moments, I want to recall some of the individuals who by action and leadership gave and still give so much that has benefitted our area. The nation has benefitted most by the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Environmental Protection Act. But what about specific projects close to home and some of the heroes who made them happen?

Who knows the story behind that court victory? It was Professors Phil Adler and Vince Bellis who helped take the issue of channelization through federal court to stop a practice that was destroying our wetlands. Natural streams and creeks were channelized and wetlands drained to have more dry land for crops and pastures. The Department of Agriculture supplied funds.

This was a great victory and my first awareness of environmental damage that needed correction. The National Sierra Club was a plaintiff in this legal action.

This action took place in the Western part of the state. It was a legal battle against the Appalachian Electric Power Co. that planned to build a dam on the New River to supply electricity for western NC, Virginia, and West Virginia. The opposition was led by Hamilton Horton, a Winston-Salem lawyer, who worked with Senator Jesse Helms. This may seem an oddly led opposition in view of Helms’ position on many environmental decisions.

Senator Willis Whichard, whose roots are in Pitt County, was the leader in getting the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) approved. He spent much time and diligence in this very essential area for wise use and protection of the coast. CAMA is, to this day, being threatened by several coastal legislators

Stan Riggs and Oren Pilkey have for years studied the dynamics of our coast. Their studies predicted beach erosion timetables and protection needed from development. Senator Marc Basnight was also instrumental in helping prevent oil drilling on our coast.

Dr. Ira Hardy was the leader in the protection of Back Creek, at Bath, NC. Plans for construction of a marina with moorings for 180 slips would have created a cesspool of polluted water and a disaster for property owners and swimmers. Dr. Hardy moved his residence to Bath and became a city council member there, helping the city develop zoning laws that denied the development of marinas.

These are just a few of our heroes who have served us well protecting our environment. We have accomplished so much in these 53 years since Senator Gaylord Nelson woke us up with his call to action on that first Earth Day

There are many issues remaining before us. Some, like climate change, are of the highest concern and beg for national policies to stabilize or reduce planet warming. With much effort and persuasion from our local Sierra Club, our city is considering hiring a sustainability manager who will work to monitor and reduce greenhouse gases in the city departments.

I have just finished reading David McCullough’s most recent book, BRAVE COMPANIONS, and made note of chapter 16, “Recommended Itinerary.” What a challenge for parents to expose their children to jewels of our country, to see and appreciate or to protect and save.

There’s good news. The grasslands of western Kansas are a flowing beauty to behold. But driving the backroads and small towns of our country, we see many businesses are boarded up. Drive through southeastern Kentucky and see the destruction of mountains by strip mining.

McCullough has a good message for us all. His last words to the graduation class of Middleburg College were: “Go from this place with confidence. Prize tolerance and horse sense. And sometime, somewhere along the way, do something for your country.”

Calvin Mercer's Citizens Communication Number 623