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Threading through the years

Ten years ago, the iPhones were just being unveiled for the first time, J.K. Rowling released the seventh book in the Harry Potter series and the housing market was a mess.

Those milestones now define the younger generation in many ways while also affecting the lives of older generations in more subtle ways: Now LaGrange finds itself on the verge of its very own defining moment as the Friends of the Thread prepare to unveil the first 1.2 miles of a 29 mile trail system; if all goes to plan will be completed within the next nine years.

If studies based on other trails like the Atlanta Beltline, the Carrollton Greenbelt and other similar trail systems prove to have the same effect in LaGrange as they have had in other locations, then the Thread could potentially change the very fabric of the city to something healthier, more community oriented and — dare we hope — more economically stable.

Businesses along the Atlanta Beltline have seen a surge in popularity, and the property values along the trail have risen dramatically since its introduction. Other businesses have even picked locations near the trail, and officials in LaGrange hope to see similar results here.

It won’t be all about the money though. Recently, WellStar West Georgia donated $15,000 toward studying what impact the trail will have on citizens of the community. While it will take time for the results of that study to come in, the short segment by Granger Park is already seeing heavy use by the community.

That is not to mention the trail’s potential to attract millennials to the area. Studies show that adults in the 22 to 36 year old age group prefer to walk or bike to locations over driving when possible. Attracting those age groups to the area has been a focus of several recent studies and projects within the county, and while the trail system alone is unlikely to bring young adults to the city, it is certainly a start.

Results for the local economy, community health and a wider variety of residents will take time though.

With only about a tenth of the trail expected to be complete in 2017, we will likely only see a small portion of the trail’s impact this year as well.

That leaves us to question though: Where will LaGrange be in ten years when the Thread is not only complete, but part of the fabric of our community? Will we be healthier? More economically stable? Will there be more young professionals living and working here?

Only time will tell.