Here’s my two cents on a number of things that I’d like to see happen in our community.
A fantastic group of volunteers has spent well over a year cleaning up the vintage 1930s riverboat Myra H. If it wasn’t for a work stoppage that was the result of COVID-19, because all of the volunteers fall into a high risk demographic, the work would have been completed.
It looks amazing and it needs to be part of a showcase for Rome’s river heritage. The question is where to showcase it.
My favorite suggestion has always been to have it prominently displayed at Unity Point, where the rivers come together in downtown Rome. I’d have it facing down the Coosa River.
Bob Harris, who has spearheaded the effort to restore the Myra H, has favored putting it kind of behind the Rome-Floyd ECO River Education Center in Ridge Ferry Park, elevated and on level with the back deck of the facility. I’m not opposed to that idea and it would fit with the educational mission of the center, but it would be a much less visible location.
There are pros and cons to putting at Unity Point.
The biggest pro would be its visibility. With increasing use of the trails and rivers, it would have nice visibility. Anyone passing over the South Broad bridge in a vehicle could see it as well.
Keep in mind that part of the deal that resulted in the boat’s original donation to the community was that it never go back in the water — so it’s got to be on display somewhere.
Another pro to that location is the simple process of getting it there. In my feeble mind, it seems like it would be much easier to transport it to that location than trying to maneuver it around the ECO Center.
The biggest con to the Unity Point location would be, and I regret having to even broach this issue, security. I suspect it would have to be fenced and security cameras would probably be an added expense. But in this world we live in, if you want to keep anything outside, it’s got to be secure from vandalism.
The thought of having that boat where Rome’s rivers come together just makes so much sense to me. Wherever it docks, it is going to need something like a pole barn structure to protect it from the elements. That would have to happen where it lands.
I bet if somebody asked nice enough those wonderful corporate citizens at Georgia Power might donate the poles to get that structure into the air.
At any rate, the Myra H is going to be finished very soon and it needs to be on display. Let’s make it it happen, soon.
The paving of the Mount Berry Trail on the west side of the Oostanaula River is close to being completed and engineering work on the second phase of that project — from Big Dry Creek to the Armuchee Connector — is an ongoing process. So what’s next for the trail system?
The connection from the levee at West Twelfth Street to the Mount Berry Trail is likely to get started in less than a year. I have no idea when the city plans to start work on the trail from U.S. 27 at the end of Coligni Way through Summerville Park to Redmond Circle and The Spires at Berry College. Again, I hope that is sooner rather than later. It’s already a nice flat rail bed and should not take a lot of work to complete, aside from the short section just west of Martha Berry Boulevard which floods frequently.
Then there is the Lindale Trail that was included in the 2017 SPLOST package. Negotiations with Norfolk Southern for the right of way along an abandoned railroad bed — let me repeat, abandoned; rails pulled up and long gone — are underway but that’s never a quick process.
Let me suggest another project that could be accomplished with the able assistance of those master trail builders with TRED, Trails for Recreation and Economic Development of Rome/Floyd County. What about the Burwell Creek area, which would link the trail through Ridge Ferry Park to the trails at Jackson Hill and Blossom Hill?
The city already owns that property. I’ve walked back through that area several times and can imagine a potential route with several relatively easy and inexpensive bridges that might cross the creek from time to time. The exact location of the tie-in to Jackson Hill is yet to be determined.
That trail could be a hybrid, with a hard surface through the Burwell Creek area because it’s gonna get wet from time to time. Then, transition to a dirt “urban wilderness” surface, the closer it gets to Jackson Hill or Blossom Hill.
Some city leaders have talked about linking Ridge Ferry Park to Jackson Hill for a long time — and there’s no time like the present for a project that would be relatively inexpensive, particularly with the use of volunteers.