A new partnership of city, county and private sector calling itself the Rome-Floyd Greenway Partnership met on Wednesday to discuss among other questions: how can Rome better connect neighborhoods, college communities and commercial districts with its growing trail network?
Rome real estate agent Bill Temple brought together more than 30 community leaders from the public sector, the local health care community and various private organizations to discuss how Rome can enhance both its land trails and riverways as quality of life projects as well as draws for tourism.
Temple stated he hopes the council can better connect with Floyd County residents and show them that outdoor recreation is one of the major economic drivers across the country today. Not only are there benefits to the population as a means of adopting healthier lifestyles but also as modes of transportation.
Completing and re-branding the trail system were two objectives Temple cited for the partnership.
The light came on for him, Temple said, on the importance of outdoor recreation when he took future homeowners around town. Seeing their faces light up when they crossed a bridge and saw people paddling on the river or biking on the trails was an eye opener.
“It was an instant wow factor,” Temple said.
But part of the job is communicating to Floyd County and Rome residents of the importance of the trails, said Floyd County Commissioner Allison Watters. Her hope is that the partnership would be able to communicate that importance.
Agreeing, Trails for Recreation and Economic Development board member Harry Brock said “a lot of times its just getting people out there and seeing what we have.”
Rome and Floyd County have had at least four different master plans over the last decade and all four have pointed to the growing importance of trails.
The National Association of Realtors has reported that trails are the number two amenity that future home buyers look for when considering the location of a new residence, Temple said.
Rome Commissioner Jamie Doss said the partnership is something that has been in the planning process for two years.
“We’re sitting on a huge gold mine,” Doss said.
The partnership plans to develop at least five working groups that would focus on funding, grant-writing, logistics/development, marketing/PR and government relations, however Temple did not reveal any timetable for future meetings.
Cave Spring Councilman Tom Lindsey said funding is a critical issue for helping Cave Spring connect to the Silver Comet Trail in Polk County.
“We’re close, we’re really close,” Lindsey said of the first construction from Rolater Park south to a section of the Pinhoti Trail, as part of the link to the Silver Comet. So far, Cave Spring has not been successful in either of its last two grant applications, he said.
Temple agreed with the importance of connecting to the Silver Comet, which attracts approximately 2 million users a year.
“We believe it can transform that community,” Temple said.
Not only can local trails add value to the community, Brock added that Chattanooga officials have been interested for years in making the connection to the Silver Comet.
“It would be a shame if we were not on that route,” Brock said.