Now, Rome and Floyd County officials want to do the same with the local trail system they share.
"We're blowing them away as far as infrastructure goes. We're just not packaging it right," County Manager Jamie McCord said.
Mayor Bill Collins created the long-discussed Trails Committee last month and put City Commissioner Jamie Doss — an outspoken advocate — at its head. On Tuesday, County Commission Chair Scotty Hancock accepted an invitation to appoint one of his board members to the new committee.
"I think that's a great idea," Hancock said.
City Manager Sammy Rich said they envision a joint panel with mainly citizen members who are interested in using and promoting the growing trail network.
Construction bids are under review for the Redmond Trail and work is about to start on the Mount Berry Trail. The two — along with a piece done by the county — will connect with the existing trail between downtown Rome and State Mutual Stadium to make a 10-mile loop on both sides of the Oostanaula River.
The 2017 special purpose, local option sales tax package also has $1.18 million for a Silver Creek Trail extension to Lindale. Another SPLOST earmark includes funding for a canoe launch and camp sites to take in the rivers and the water trails.
"We have a well-developed trail system," Rich said. "What we need is somebody to be our chief ambassadors, our cheerleaders, to help us brand our product ... to help people understand what it can mean to our community."
While the city commission has been the main driver in building trails, county commissioners are showing more enthusiasm. County Commissioner Wright Bagby noted that the Lindale trail will open access to a new area of the county. And McCord said a water trail connection near the stadium would make that under-used area more desirable for development.
"I've had inquiries from investors with a business plan. If we had a canoe trail they'd pull the trigger right now," McCord said.
City Commissioner Randy Quick noted that more people are gravitating toward river recreation and Rome's three — the Oostanaula meeting the Etowah to form the Coosa — were the envy of an economic development class recently attended through the Georgia Municipal Association.
The discussion came during the city-county Joint Services Committee meeting.
Representatives from both governments also talked about issuing bonds to jump-start some of the 2017 SPLOST projects. Collections don't start until the 2013 SPLOST ends on March 31, but voters approved up to $30 million in bonds from the $63.88 million package.
McCord said he's working on a cost-benefit analysis he expects to present to his board next month.