Work is underway on the Rails-To-Trails project that has long been a dream of city officials and community leaders in Clarksville.
The pilot phase of Rails-To-Trails will include walking, jogging and biking trails that span 3.6 miles from Riverfront Park to Pollard Road. Eventually, the trails will extend four to five miles, all the way to Peachers Mill Road at 101st Parkway.
Several years ago, the city purchased 30 acres of railroad footage owned by Montell Meadows. And in 2008, the city accepted a donation from the Pressler family of 94 acres that will enhance the trails project.
The trail will provide panoramic views of the Cumberland River and will offer respite in a rural setting in the center of the city. The pilot phase is due to be completed by year”s end. The future goal is to connect to the Ashland City Bicentennial Greenway Trail. Ten acres have already been purchased near the county line for the expansion.
Since early January, Clarksville Mayor John Piper has taken advantage of winter down time for work crews from the Parks and Recreation and the Streets departments to begin clearing debris from the trails.
“This not only saves the city money because we”re using workers that are already on the city payroll,” said Piper, “but it also gives the community a jump start on the bulk of the work, which will occur during the warmer summer to fall months.”
The city is also planning a Rails-To-Trails Community Day in April to christen the start of the project and to enlist community support and in-kind services.
“The more we can encourage in-kind services from individuals, organizations and businesses, the less it will cost the city and the taxpayers in actual dollars spent,” said Piper. “We will need help clearing more debris, cutting down trees, excavating walkways, laying pavers, installing gates and other tasks. I am confident we will have many offers to participate because so many people have wanted to see this happen.”
City officials are not the only ones planning for Rails-To-Trails. Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mark Holleman has been a long-time advocate for the project.
“Everybody”s going green,” said Holleman. “People have a growing interest in outdoor activities and fitness. It”s been proven that locating walking trails within easy access to residential areas increases property values. It is the quality of life factor that appeals to homeowners.”
“We just attracted one of the biggest investments of the year, and I believe it happened in part because Clarksville is all about quality of life. When you recruit large companies like Dow Corning/Hemlock, they not only look at the area work force and building sites, but also at the school systems and quality of life in the community.”
The Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Development Council also recently unveiled its 2009 four-year plan that included a renewed focus on developing more greenways, walkways, parks and trails.
Clarksville is Tennessee”s fifth largest and third fastest growing city and is the ninth fastest growing city in the U.S. For more news and information, visit www.cityofclarksville.com or contact the mayor”s office at 931-645-7444.