Trail supporters hope for strong turnout
Published 12:00 am Monday, July 18, 2016
LaGRANGE — Supporters of a proposed mixed-use pedestrian trail are hoping for a strong turnout at a public meeting set for Tuesday.
The meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. at the Del’Avant event space on Main Street, is open to the public and set to introduce a planned 27-mile linear park dubbed The Thread that would connect LaGrange’s four quadrants.
Bob Goehring, a representative of the Friends of The Thread, a trail advocacy group, said he supports the trail because it offers an amenity that’s growing in popularity across the country.
“Trails offer what an increasingly large percentage of people want and need in a community: safe, affordable access to open-air exercise and transportation not requiring a car, truck or cycle,” he told the Daily News. “Trails have become an essential quality of life factor in the choice of where individuals, especially millennials and retirees, and businesses locate. The growth and prosperity of a community is becoming increasingly connected to its trail system or lack thereof.”
Under the plan, paved trails would connect a variety of neighborhoods and central locations in LaGrange. The proposed route would connect WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, LaGrange College, Callaway Stadium, the Troup County soccer complex on Fort Drive, Granger Park, Lafayette Square, Calumet Village and dozens of neighborhoods, to name a few.
Similar trails exist in cities around Georgia, including Carrollton, Atlanta and St. Simon’s island. The trails are typically 8 to 12 feet wide, paved, two-lane paths marked with various trail heads and signs. In Carrollton, the Greenbelt Trail is a 16-mile loop that connects shopping, residential neighborhoods, the University of West Georgia, a disc golf course and many other amenities and employers.
Goehring helped spearhead the trail’s concept after visiting other places with similar trails, he said. He approached city and county leaders, who supported the idea, and in January formed a 21-person steering committee that sought out various firms that help design trails.
“After vetting several firms, we hired the PATH Foundation of Atlanta to facilitate the planning process,” he said. “PATH has been at the center of trail development in Georgia, including the Atlanta Beltline, Carrollton Greenbelt, Columbus Riverlink, Georgia Silver Comet and many others.”
After meeting with the PATH Foundation, the steering committee crafted a master plan that links LaGrange and on Tuesday will unveil the proposed route to the public. The meeting is slated to last two hours. In the first hour, the PATH Foundation and representatives of the trail will describe its route, purpose and design, and the second hour will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions and provide input. Light refreshments will be provided.
Anyone with questions may contact LaGrange City Hall at 706-883-2010.