Our country finds itself at what I really believe is a major crossroads in time.

I try to avoid most politically based discussions for a lot of reasons. This is not really one of them, but there are some divergent fundamental beliefs that come into play when discussing government fiscal policies that just can’t be avoided.

Before I get hip deep, let me say two things.

First, a big thank you to RN-T Executive Editor John Bailey for permitting me to turn Word on the Street into what amounts to a personal column each week.

Second, please understand that my primary role as a “reporter” cannot be confused with this once-a-week effort as a columnist. This is my opinion and regular news stories are not. They are written to be straight, factual coverage of a topic or event.

With the latter said, and hopefully understood, let me applaud local governments for their support of quality of life issues. Today I refer specifically to trails.

Not everyone is supportive of trails. Some folks are adamant in their opposition to them and I’m not even referring to government funding. They don’t like trails period.

Some good folks in our community, who I’m convinced would give me the shirt off their back if I needed it, have already stopped reading this because it is clear that I support trail development.

I just love to be outdoors. One of my mother’s brothers was a ranger for the National Park Service and I guess I got that love of nature him. Some of my earliest memories are walking the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah National Park. Hiking the entire AT has been a bucket list item of mine forever.

I really love that Rome has two nice “urban wilderness” trail systems on Jackson Hill and Garrard Park by the old GE plant.

The paved trail network, known as the Heritage Riverways Trail system, is also a magnificent amenity to our community and it’s growing, thanks to government foresight.

Just not quite fast enough.

The Mount Berry Trail, from behind the post office out to the Armuchee Connector, will open sometime after it stops raining — maybe April or May. Maybe.

But the link from the existing trail atop the Oostanaula levee that will get you to that trail, known as Phase one of the Redmond Trail, and ... well, who knows when that’s going to happen? It’s become like the trails version of the Highway 411 Connector to I-75.

Phase two of the Redmond Trail will run from the post office through Summerville Park to Redmond Circle where folks who live at The Spires at Berry College. Plans for The Spires did not exist when the trail was first proposed.

Wouldn’t it be great if that trail, most of which is on an abandoned rail bed that the city has already acquired from Norfolk Southern, could be ready for use when The Spires opens later this summer? Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen.

Two developments of recent note are the creation of a Rome-Floyd County Greenways Partnership, and an effort by TRED — Trails for Recreation and Economic Development — to hire a part time executive director.

Here’s hoping the Greenways Partnership sets its sights on something that can be accomplished fairly quickly. Nothing like action to generate some buzz and publicity. For example, most everyone in the trails community is supportive of a connection to the Silver Comet Trail in Polk County, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon either. There has been some talk about a new sexy name for Rome’s trail system. There’s nothing wrong with Heritage Riverways, but no, it’s not sexy. Bill Temple, chairman of the Greenway Partnership says new signage and a rebrand campaign are on the horizon. I wish them good luck.

The new part time executive director for TRED will be charged with setting a direction, and perhaps re-energizing the non-profit group that helped raise the cash match for phase one of the Redmond Trail — how many years ago was that?

TRED has continued to do magnificent work on Jackson Hill and at Garrard Park and has been a leading advocate for what will be a SPLOST funded trail connection from the Public Health Department on East 12th Street, all the way down to Lindale. That is part of a five-year SPLOST package and I’d love to be able to walk from downtown to Lindale along that trail sometime in the next five years. Preliminary discussions with Norfolk Southern about acquiring an abandoned rail bed for that trail are apparently getting positive response. My fingers are crossed!

Recommended for you