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A key vote on expanding bike trails

Johnson City Press • Nov 16, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Johnson City commissioners have an opportunity to make the city a prime destination for mountain bikers from both near and far. Commissioners are being asked to approve a plan to expand the soon-to-be-completed bicycle trails on Tannery Knobs.

Doing so, as City Commissioner Joe Wise noted to his colleagues at a meeting earlier this week, would be “a very cost-effective way to put Johnson City on the map and draw revenue that’s sticky revenue, that can’t be cannibalized by the next town with $10 million to spend on something.”

As Press staff writer Zach Vance reported in Wednesday’s paper, the first phase of mountain bike trails atop Tannery Knobs are nearly complete. Grant Summers, who has spearheaded the project, told commissioners it would cost about $990,000 to get the entire Tannery Knobs mountainside built and accredited with signage.

“This (amount) will pretty much finish out this mountain, Summers said. “It does get us to where we can have NICA (the National Interscholastic Cycling Association) accredited loops and competition.”

That NICA accreditation would make the Tannery Knobs park eligible to host high school mountain biking competitions and state championships, which could include competitors from Science Hill’s newly formed team.

That $990,0000 figure also includes hiring Trail Solutions, the same company designing and building the Tannery Knobs trails, to complete a master plan for building bike trails along Buffalo Mountain. Expanding bike trials to Buffalo Mountain could be the most far-reaching decision commissioners will make this year.

“Buffalo Mountain is a huge resource the city has that is not necessarily being utilized to its full extent,” Summers told commissioners on Monday. “And with what we hope is a growing class of mountain bikers and mountain bike tourism, that’s the largest asset the city can leverage.”

He’s right. Expanding the bike trails across the mountain will provide interconnectivity to businesses in downtown Johnson City that would benefit from having this amenity so close to an interstate highway.

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