Area government leaders wanted a community group to step up and shepherd putting plans into action for a Hall County
bicycle/pedestrian trail network.
And it appears they have found one in the Vision 2030 Green Space Committee, which spoke Monday night to the Joint Municipal Association about the “Hall County Trails Initiative.”
“We all care about our kids and our grandkids or we wouldn’t be here,” said Jason Everett to the group, meeting at Oakwood City Hall. “This is green that counts.”
Everett leads a trails and greenways subcommittee of the Vision 2030 group. Springing from the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Vision 2030 is a community organization looking at long-term goals.
Completion of a trail network in Hall County will help cut down on pollution and other environmental impacts from car travel, “and that’s good for all of us,” Everett said.
“This is something the community wants,” said subcommittee member R.K. Whitehead. “They recognize the benefit of it and the long-term lifestyle improvements it will make for our area.”
Otherwise, asphalt parking lots could dominate the scenery, he said.
“We want to make sure we are out in front of that and creating this infrastructure that’s going to allow us to attract young people to live, work and play in Gainesville and Hall County,” Whitehead said.
The trails initiative was developed after the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hall area’s lead transportation planning agency, updated a $146 million bike/pedestrian plan last year.
Rather than let the plan collect dust, officials decided to move forward with some type of organization and address “early-action” projects. A subcommittee was formed from the July meeting to further explore the idea.
The subcommittee suggested some type of alliance, “where you bring together a lot of partners, a lot of resources that have an interest in this taking place,” said Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown, who helped push the idea, at the time.
The Green Space Committee “has stepped up to be the local champion,” Brown said Monday night.
“We need to do something better, smarter, wiser to involve the community. It can’t just be a government effort. It’s got to be a communitywide effort,” Brown said. “And that’s what’s exciting about this.
“We need to realize this has got to be a collaborative effort. We need to be hand-in-hand with these guys as we go.”
Much of the planned trails are on paper, but “on-the-ground” work is poised to begin this year on the Central Hall Multi-use Trail between Gainesville and Oakwood.
It will run roughly between Palmour Drive in Gainesville to Lanier Technical College and University of North Georgia-Gainesville.
The trail follows largely along Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway, cutting through a section of historic Chicopee Village. Bicyclists and pedestrians will be able to cross underneath Atlanta Highway.
The $2.3 million trail project is being funded by federal dollars and Hall’s special purpose local option sales tax.
Gainesville’s Midtown Greenway already is in place from just south of Jesse Jewell Parkway to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Grove and Pine streets. Eventually, it could extend east to E.E. Butler Parkway and south to Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport and the Central Hall trail.