The region encompassed 15 counties and included four states.
One particular session, “The National Treasures Workshop,” touched on the vision and ideas for recreation. The table where I landed had a massive map of the region in question and our task was to identify the growth potential for recreation over the next quarter century.
What I found fascinating was the way the discussion naturally drifted toward establishing more trails and greenways. We didn’t talk about building tennis courts or adding ballfields. We didn't search for potential sites for more golf courses. The participants at my table identified several corridors where future trails could happen and tried to connect the various greenways across state and county lines.
There was also discussion about blueways where people could enjoy connectivity of the many miles of waterways in our area. We also discussed the “Rails to Trails” initiative which utilizes abandoned railroad beds for connectivity. One participant gushed at the prospect of actually finishing the Cumberland Trail.
Of course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to point to the Bradley County section of the map where I was able to share what we have right now in our community. My colleagues at the table were impressed when I told them we have four miles of continuous greenway and a long-term vision of connecting to the Hiwassee River. I shared how recent discussions have taken place on incorporating miles of natural walking and biking trails on the new Spring Branch property at Exit 20. I was proud to say that there was an upcoming visit by a group from New Mexico that will take us to the next level on our interpretive greenway in Charleston.
The short three-hour workshop was an exciting and encouraging look into the minds and attitudes of area leaders and the vital role they all believe greenways and trails will play in future recreational planning. Our community is on the cutting edge of this trend and with the support of everyone over the long haul we can achieve great things for our region.
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