‘It sews together the community’
Hundreds of citizens walked, jogged and ran down the model mile of the Thread on Saturday morning, celebrating the trail’s completion with a fun run.
On Saturday, the Thread trail and the greenspace on Haralson St. were filled with close to a thousand community members for the ribbon cutting and celebration of the completion of the first 1.3 miles of the Thread trail — otherwise known as the model mile. The area where the ceremony took place has undergone drastic improvements in recent years, and officials expressed their excitement over the beautiful public space that it has become.
“How many of you remember that big gully that went through the middle of this field and poured into that creek?” Callaway Foundation President Speer Burdette asked. “All of the kudzu that surrounded that gully? This was once actually a portion of a landfill over here at one time years ago. How transformative this has been. We are delighted to be able to have several years ago created this greenspace, and this nice passive area that passes from Haralson Street to Granger Park, but now to be able to transform that with the Thread (is incredible).”
The Thread got its start as a simple thought by Bob Goehring who lives in LaGrange. Goehring saw a series of trails while visiting family in France, and he returned home asking how LaGrange could get its own series of trails that would encourage exercise and community. That idea resulted in research into similar trails nearby, conversations with officials about how to make the trail possible and working with other locals on the project — eventually forming the Friends of the Thread.
“Here we are less than two years later, we have this magnificent model mile of the Thread that many of you have had the chance to enjoy, and it certainly is going to be transformative of the city, particularly after we build out the full 29 miles, which I know will take some time,” Mayor Jim Thornton said. “It is not going to happen overnight, but I think over the next 5 to 10 years — as this trail system builds out — it is going to really be transformative for LaGrange and Troup County.”
The Thread is expected to take nine to ten years to complete depending on funding. The majority of the funding for the Thread is expected to come from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which will be on the ballot this November. The project has also received donations for a Health Impact Assessment, an Economic Impact Assessment and new exercise equipment to replace the old equipment beside the section of Granger Park that the trail circles.
“We are excited about the future of where the Thread might go, and the other many miles that have to be built, but it all started with a spark from our citizens,” County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews said.
That spark means different things for different people. For some, it is about a place to exercise safely. For others, that spark comes from a need for a place to socialize. For others still, that spark arises from a desire to see a cleaner, more beautiful, more environmentally aware community.
“We are excited about the idea that we can get more community involvement with the Thread today and into the future,” Director of Keep Troup Beautiful Scott Landa said. “Hopefully the total 29 miles worth will get the community involved in taking care of the Thread, which supports our main mission of litter control, recycling and things like that. Keep Troup Beautiful is really happy to be a part of the activity on the Thread and keeping it looking great, so that other people can enjoy using it.”
The interwoven aspects of community enjoyment and community involvement seemed to be themes during the ceremony that celebrated the relationships already being formed as a result of the project.
“What is exciting to me about the Thread is that it does two things,” Thornton said. “One is — and it is an homage to the name — it actually sews together the community of LaGrange. … It is bringing together all of these parts of our city where we are experiencing transformative growth. Today it is Granger, and in just a couple of months, it is going to be Calumet at Eastside Park, where the second segment of the Thread has already been designed.”
Construction on the second part of the Thread is expected to begin in October. The second segment of the Thread will connect Eastside Park in the Calumet neighborhood with the Shuford Fields Softball Complex and the George Harris Baseball Complex.
“The other thing that it does, is it makes LaGrange not just a great place to work — which we are, we are a great place to work,” Thornton said. “We have great jobs and great corporate investment in our community, but it also adds to that quality of life. It adds to that livability.”
Officials reported regularly seeing the thread full of community members on a regular basis, even during these hot summer months.
“You see people from all ages, all walks of life smiling and speaking, and it is such a great place for our community to come together,” Burdette said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Granger Park and this area look any better than it looks right now.”
Keep Troup Beautiful is hosting a program where individuals or businesses can adopt a portion of the Thread to help keep it clean of litter and report any other problems like damaged signage. If you or your business would like to adopt a strand of the Thread, contact Scott Landa at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 884-9922.