Cleveland and Bradley County have a long history of cooperation on many levels. Unfortunately, we’ve had our differences, such as the recent disagreement over the distribution of sales taxes collected after the 2009 referendum. These are issues that often make headlines and distract from the bigger picture.
The truth is our two local governments have enjoyed a good working relationship not seen in many communities across Tennessee. The result has been a record of economic growth and improved quality of life for our citizens.
A few examples of Cleveland-Bradley joint efforts include: the hugely successful Small Business Incubator at Cleveland State Community College; the retention of the Whirlpool plant; the strategic growth plan; expansion of the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library; and the sewer line extension for Park View Elementary School. Numerous other projects can be identified, such as the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway.
Planning for the development of the Greenway began in 1998. However, the first phase was not completed until October 2001. Since then the Greenway has enjoyed broad community support, as well as continued support from Cleveland and Bradley County.
Civic groups such as the Rotary Club and humanitarian groups such as People for Care and Learning have joined with individuals, foundations and local businesses to support the Greenway financially. This support has allowed the Greenway Board to add several amenities that enhance the experience of those who use the Greenway. Those additions include public restrooms, a drinking fountain, a children’s playground, park benches, mile markers, picnic tables and bronze historical markers. The Board continues to look for ways to improve the Greenway as funds become available.
The vision is for the Greenway to begin in downtown Cleveland and follow Mouse Creek approximately 13 miles to the Hiwassee River. A groundbreaking was held in June for Phase 5 which will connect at Raider Drive and pass through property owned by Mars Inc. When completed later this year, it will connect with the trail in Tinsley Park. This phase will stretch the Greenway a distance of almost four miles from Willow Street to Mohawk Drive behind Home Depot. Greenway spurs will also connect with trails at Spring Creek Development and Schimmels Park at Lee University.
Thirteen years after the initial planning stage, the Greenway has become an important part of our community’s quality of life. However, long-range planning by the Greenway Board continues on a monthly basis. The vision is to connect Phase 6 from Willow Street to the Village Green Center. In years to come the goal is to connect the northern end from Mohawk Drive to the Charleston Greenway on the Hiwassee River.
Overseeing the expansion and upkeep of the Greenway requires a lot of dedication and hard work. As county mayor, I want to express my appreciation to the Greenway Board: Jeff Morelock, Adam Lewis, Matthew Brown, Janice Casteel, Bill Estes, Judy Chandler, Will Reynolds, Kim Duncan and especially chairman Cameron Fisher for their commitment to this project. Their volunteer efforts and commitment to this project have made the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway the envy of many other communities.
I sincerely hope the city and county will be able to continue these type joint ventures which benefit the entire community. Cooperation is the key. Without it everyone loses and future endeavors could be in jeopardy.