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Promoting recreation, saving green space not wasteful

Staff Report • Mar 9, 2012 at 8:23 AM

Johnson City officials are moving forward in creating the first rails-to-trails project in Northeast Tennessee. City commissioners voted last month to approve a master plan to develop a 10-mile stretch of railway between Johnson City and Elizabethton to build the Tweetsie Trail.

As Press staff writer Gary B. Gray has reported, the Tweetsie Trail would be a rails-to-trails or “railbanking” that allows an unused railroad corridor to be converted to a walking or biking trail. This designation will protect this scenic corridor from encroaching development.

Periodically, we hear from naysayers who believe Johnson City has no business protecting green spaces or providing much-needed recreational opportunities for its residents. They argue it is a waste of city tax dollars.

To the contrary, there’s nothing wasteful about the proposed Tweetsie Trail. We believe the Tweetsie Trail will be as successful as the Virginia Creeper Trail, which is considered to be the best rail-to-trail in North America. The 34-mile Creeper Trail winds through Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains. It has become one of the region’s premiere destinations for hikers, bikers and eco-tourists.

Of course the naysayers were predicting doom and gloom way back in the late 1980s when city commissioners voted to purchase the Arney Farm on the banks of Boone Lake. They said no one will want to drive all the way out to Boone Lake to visit a city park. Boy, were they wrong. That property, of course, was developed as Winged Deer Park and is now one of the most visited and beloved municipal parks in the region.

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