In my capacity as chairman of the Cleveland/Bradley Greenway Board of Directors, last week I attended the open forum sessions on this comprehensive plan which is still very much in the draft stages. Among the emphasized areas were public parks, such as greenways, and their proposed placement in a comprehensive plan. Large “Post-It” sheets were mounted next to each area inviting public input. I was pleased to read many positive comments about the Greenway and the impact it has had on our community.
About five years ago a survey was mailed to more that 1,500 random households in Cleveland and Bradley County. The focus of the survey was the development of a local master plan for parks and recreation. The survey asked the respondents to list their priorities for health, wellness, recreation and fitness, and preferences on how to best meet these needs. Basically, the question was asked, “what would you like to see more of in our community?”
According to Paul Corder, senior planner with the city of Cleveland, of the 90 activities mentioned in the survey, the top three were walking paths, bike routes and fitness trails.
Whether these priorities were influenced by the presence of a Greenway in our community is unknown, but the survey did underscore the fact that most people in Cleveland and Bradley County appreciate the Greenway and the benefits it provides.
However, last week an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which covered the open forum meetings, reported that, “some people have spoken out against future public-funded parks and greenways.”
"We suspect there are other public opinions," Bradley County Planner Corey Divel was quoted as saying in the article. "But we can't make up what we think the public wants. And if that's all we hear, that's what we have to report."
Divel’s comments speak to the fact that it is typical of those who oppose an initiative, such as the Greenway, to be more likely to voice their complaints and concerns than those who enjoy and appreciate something. The old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” could be applicable as the final drafts of the comprehensive plan move forward.
This is where, if you’re a supporter of the Greenway, your help is needed. Both Corder and Divel are involved in developing the comprehensive plan with the planning firm Brown Pearman Russell, LLC of Knoxville. Please email your comments, thoughts and ideas about the future of the Greenway to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Your input could change the direction of the future of greenways and trails in our community.