Light rain Saturday didn’t stop a large crowd from taking part in the dedication of the new GE Trails at Garrard Park. Well over a hundred hiking and biking enthusiasts along with descendants of Dr. John L. Garrard huddled under tents near the trailhead, at the east end of the old General Electric parking lot, to dedicate the recreation area (map).
The 123 acres are named for the doctor who originally owned the land and sold it to General Electric in July 1952 for $118,350. His youngest son, Bobby Garrard, who still lives in Rome, snipped the ribbon to officially open the recreational complex.
Dr. Garrard took one of the fields on the property and turned it into an airstrip, Rome’s first airport. Robert E. Stroop, who was certified for flight in 1921 by Orville Wright, delivered the plane to Rome and fell in love with one of Garrard’s daughters and they later married. Many of the Garrard and Stroop descendants were on hand Saturday for the dedication.
When the plant closed in 1997, discussions started almost immediately about donating the wooded acreage to the city.
“This feels like a lifetime project for us,” said Rome City Manager Sammy Rich. “That was just to get the property under city control. Basically 20 years later we’re all standing out in the parking lot and for the first time this 123 acres is back in use for all of you.”
TRED volunteers, including trailmaster Billy Nicholson, Steve Kight, Jim Jackson and Mike Rousseau, and many others worked virtually every weekend since last June to build the trail. Cody Platt, the GE site manager, was among the others recognized for contributions to the trail network.
Prison crews from the Floyd County Prison were also instrumental in doing a lot of the work.
Three loop trails designed for mountain bikes crisscross approximately half of the 123-acre tract for a total of 4 miles. A 1.2-mile walking trail has also been developed along the perimeter of the property and was named for Bob and Peggy Moore during Saturday’s ceremony. The Moores operated Bob’s Cycle Shop for many years and have been longtime leaders in the development of area trails.
Nicholson said the first-time volunteers walked the site, they saw there was a lot of standing water on the property.
“We ended up with eight bridges, which are nice features for the trails, one of them is over a beaver dam,” he said.
The trails are still a work in progress, Nicholson added.
“We had some pavers donated and we’ll be putting those in the real muddy areas, and we may even put in some boardwalks, so it will be fun to ride,” he said. “We used the International Mountain Biking Association template for trails, which means they will be sustainable trails that drain well and are easy to maintain and handle a lot of traffic.”
The city is still is the process of developing plans for the southern end of the park, closer to West Central Elementary School.
There’s no place like Rome for the 27th annual Up the Creek Trail and Century Ride on Saturday, April 29, 2017. The ride leaves from The Forum in downtown Rome and heads north to the scenic roads and hills of NW Georgia. For those who want a shorter distance, enjoy a 5-mile family scavenger hunt ride along Rome’s scenic Heritage Trail system (multi-use paved path), sponsored by Harbin Clinic.
Ride distances: 5-mile family trail ride, 32, 53, 71, 81, 104, 109 road options.
Proceeds benefit TRED (Trails for Recreation and Economic Development) efforts to build and maintain trails in Rome and Floyd County.
Up the Creek Signature Perks
- LCCL Farms homemade strawberry ice cream
- Homemade SAG treats and friendly volunteers
- Beautiful rolling hills where cars are scarce
- Meal coupons for downtown Rome restaurants
- Dry-fit shirts
Up the Creek Schedule
Friday, April 28, 2017
- 2-6 pm – Registration at Cycle Therapy Bike Shop, 27 Central Plaza, Rome
Saturday, April 29, 2017
- 6:30 am – Ride Day Registration at The Forum, 301 Tribune Street, Rome
- 8 am – Rides depart, 32, 53, 71, 81, 104, 109 (fully SAG’ed rides)
- 9 am – Harbin Clinic family trail ride departs (supported ride)
A group organizing biking and walking trails on land donated to the city of Rome by General Electric got some more help from the company Thursday.
Rome GE executive Cody Platt presented Trails for Recreation and Economic Development officials with a check for $5,000.
The money will be used for the advancement of walking and biking trails at the park being generated on the 123-acre tract.
“A portion will likely be set aside for ongoing maintenance of the trails,” said TRED President Julie Smith.
Some of the funds are also slated to be used for the development of a changing area and an elevated composting toilet.
An 8-foot-by-8-foot kiosk with maps of the trails, and usage signs will also be constructed.
“We’ve enjoyed our relationship with TRED for the last several years and view them as a great partner in the community,” Platt said. “They’ve done a great job with trail development and encouraging lots of recreational opportunities for the community.”
Volunteers have essentially completed four miles of bike trails through the woods and a one-mile walking loop. Smith said plans are to build another mile of single-track trail for bike use.
“We intend to continually upgrade the trails and maintain them,” she said. “We trust the city will be able to continue to provide help, in the form of occasional prison crews for work and cleanup.”
Harry Brock said volunteers, led by Billy Nicholson, have pretty much finished work on seven mountain bike bridges across drainage ditches on the property. Another larger bridge on the hiking trail crosses a wetland area created by a beaver dam.
Prison crews have also been active in the work on the trails, cutting fallen pine trees in half to create single-track obstacles for the more experienced riders.
“The (biking) trails will be suitable for novice-to-intermediate riders, but will also offer several challenging features that advanced riders will enjoy,” Smith said.
All of the trails will be color coded based on the level of difficulty.
The primary trailhead will be located at the woodline east of the old GE medium transformer plant on Redmond Circle. People seeking to use the trail would come in at the main entrance to the GE plant and then turn left and go through a long parking lot to access the trailhead.
Brock and Smith said a tentative ribbon cutting for the trail network has been set for Feb. 18.
It can be hard to figure out what the hell you should be doing out there in the vast wilderness of traffic. People get angry about pretty much every behavior. Someone will get mad at you for following the law precisely, while someone else gets mad that you harmlessly break the law. Car-driving commenters love to rail about how bikers break the law and use that as an argument for why we shouldn’t invest in bike infrastructure or encourage cycling. Bike-riding commenters complain about drivers parking in the bike lane or pedestrians walking on bike paths. It’s all a hot mess. To help bring some clarity to the conversation, here are critical rules and behaviors for navigating urban streets no matter what mode you’re using. Some of these rules are not actually legal, so follow them at your own risk.
- Idaho stop: The Idaho stop is a law which allows bikers to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs. I advocate for this approach, since it helps people biking establish themselves in the road. The authors of one study stated “stopping discourages bicycling, substantially increasing time, energy expenditure, discomfort, risk of collisions and risk for strain and overuse injuries.” They went on to write that, “Bicyclists enjoy vastly superior abilities to perceive and execute a safe yield at a stop than other modes, and great incentive to do so safely.” The study found that bicycle injuries decreased by 14.5% the year after the law was implemented. Whether or not the Idaho stop is officially canonized into law, we shouldn’t ticket bicyclists for running red lights or failing to stop at stop signs when this behavior can improve their safety and comfort. This is not a full license to blow through a red light. But if you come to a stop (or significantly slow down even if you don’t put your foot on the ground), look both ways, and make sure it’s safe to proceed, then go ahead.
- Don’t bike fast like a jerk: If it’s a Saturday afternoon and you wanna cruise 25mph down the Greenway unimpeded, just stop. That’s not going to happen. If you try to zip down the Greenway and get frustrated every time someone is in your way, it’s your own fault for having unrealistic expectations. If you want to bike fast and unimpeded, bike in the street with the cars. You do not own the path any more than anyone else. This means that if you yell, “On your left,” from two blocks away and people don’t hear you, you’ll have to slow down, repeat yourself, and pass once they move over.
- Biking on the sidewalk: Biking on the sidewalk is dangerous. A study in Minneapolis by Bike Walk Twin Cities found that 39% of motorist-bicyclist crashes occurred when bikers were entering traffic from a sidewalk. Sidewalk biking may feel safer to you, but it’s actually one of the most dangerous things to do on a bike. If you’re afraid of biking in heavy traffic, find quiet side streets to bike on. For example, in my neighborhood many people bike on sidewalks along Lyndale Avenue to avoid heavy car traffic. If they biked just one or two blocks off Lyndale in either direction, they’d find quiet side streets where there’s less traffic and slower moving vehicles. This is a better option than sidewalk biking. If you insist on sidewalk biking, realize that it’s your responsibility to yield to pedestrians, to take extra caution at all intersections, and to be aware of your surroundings.
- Don’t pass on the right: There is no need to pass on the right. Other bikers aren’t expecting you there and if they’re about to turn right, they’re going to turn right into you causing both of you to crash. If you’re trying to pass on the right because it’s not clear to pass on the left, that means it’s not clear to pass at all. Just wait a second already!
- Slow down: Speed is dangerous. Driving faster increases the likelihood that you will kill a person walking or biking if you hit them. If you’re driving at 20mph and hit someone, the chance that they’ll die from their injuries is 5%. If you’re driving 40mph and hit someone, the chance that they’ll die from their injuries sky rockets to 85%. If you’re in a crowded pedestrian area or on a residential street, 25mph is plenty. Driving slower means you’ll have more time to respond to someone in the street and will be less likely to seriously injure or kill someone if you do hit them.
- Stop for pedestrians and bikers: Did you know that in Minnesota, walkers have the right of way at every corner? Every corner where two roads come together is an unmarked crosswalk, which means you should be stopping when you see someone waiting or starting to cross. It’s a law that most drivers ignore and most pedestrians are too afraid to take advantage of, so the norm is that drivers don’t stop at unmarked crosswalks and barely stop at marked ones. You can and should change this norm by respecting walkers and bikers who are trying to cross the road.
- Move over: If you are passing someone on a bike, you must give at least three feet when overtaking them. This is to avoid sideswiping them or hitting them if they swerve to avoid debris in the road. This is not a simple courtesy, it is a matter of life and death. You will probably have to cross the center line to pass a cyclist safely, and that is okay. If you can’t change lanes or there’s oncoming traffic that prevents you from crossing the center line, then just wait. It’s common sense. Don’t put someone else’s life at risk just because you’re impatient.
- Don’t honk, seriously: It’s loud. Honking is illegal unless you’re in imminent danger. Honking is scary for people outside of a vehicle. If you’re honking at a person on a bike, you might cause them to lose their balance and fall over right in front of you. Just don’t do it.
- Don’t give up your right-of-way: I know you’re trying to be nice when you give up your right-of-way and wave a biker through a stop sign, but you’re making things worse. Imagine being at an intersection where another vehicle has clearly gotten there first, as often happens to me when I’m on my bike. I sit and wait for them to go. They sit and wait for me to go because I’m on a bike, and they’re confused or trying to be courteous. Sometimes they’re waving me through, but often I can’t see the driver due to windshield glare. Then after we’ve been stuck in a stalemate for far too long, I eventually go. If drivers would just go in the correct order, we’d avoid a stalemate and I might not even have to put down my foot because I’d be able to time my approach to the intersection to arrive after the car has proceeded through.
- Right turn on red: Right turn on red is dangerous, many pedestrians are hit, injured, and killed this way because drivers only look to the left to ensure they are safe to move into traffic and do not look to the right to avoid hitting pedestrians in the crosswalk. If you’re going to turn right on red, do not move into a crosswalk until you’re pretty certain you can move out of it quickly. Before turning right into traffic make sure you look right to ensure you’re not going to run over a pedestrian. If you don’t have a clear sight line to oncoming traffic, or would have to block a crosswalk for a significant period of time to get one, just wait. Red lights don’t last that long.
- Don’t park in the bike lane: The bike lane is not there for you to park in. There is no excuse for parking in a bike lane ever. Figure out some other place to stop or park your car that is not endangering the safety of bikers.
- Don’t walk on bike paths: If there’s a bike path and a walking path and you’d prefer to walk on the bike path, just stop. The reason there’s a bike path is so people can ride their bikes on it; the reason there’s a walking path is so people can walk on it. These are two different groups that move at different speeds, it makes sense to keep them separated. In the winter when walking paths aren’t plowed, the bike paths essentially become shared use paths, so see below.
- When you’re walking on shared use paths, stay right and stay alert: It’s great that you’re out walking your dog, but other people want to use the path too. Don’t take up the whole thing because your dog’s leash is way too long and he’s curious about those smells over there. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you’re on a shared use path, stay to the right and stay alert. Be ready to move over when people jogging, rollerblading, or biking want to pass you. It’s only polite.
- When someone says “On your left” trust that they’re passing on your left: This means you need to know left from right and be ready to move over if someone’s coming. Please pay attention.
- Don’t use your phone while you’re moving: Even if you’re walking. Pay attention to where you’re going. If you must use your phone, pull over to the side of the road or walk over to an unused part of the sidewalk. Don’t block traffic, watch where you’re going, and avoid hurting or killing people.
- Be courteous and patient: No matter how many people behave well, there will always be a contingent of people who are gonna act like assholes. Accept this. Don’t go fuming into a rage anytime someone on a bike blows through a red light. They’re one person, they’re not an ambassador for everyone who rides bikes. If a walker on the bike path is taking up all the space and not paying attention, realize that it’s not a personal affront against you or a reason to treat other walkers like enemies. If a driver cuts you off, try to let it go without escalating the situation or cutting off the next driver you see. There are lots of careless mistakes that happen in moments of confusion, they’ve happened to me and they’ve happened to you. The best we can do for ourselves and for others in our community is to assume that other people are just trying to get somewhere doing the best job they can.
Over 530 cyclists rode the beautiful roads in Rome and Floyd County on April 30 during the 26th annual Up the Creek Without a Pedal Century Ride, co-sponsored by TRED and Coosa Valley Cycling Association. Ride options ranged from the 13 mile Heritage Trail ride upwards to the 109 century route that ventured into Walker County. For the second year in a row riders departed from the Town Green and were able to enjoy lunch at local restaurants, a favorite feature of the riders. Also a favorite feature of the ride was the delicious homemade strawberry ice cream that awaited riders at the LCCL Strawberry Farm on Old Dalton Road. Thanks for the tireless volunteers and SAG drivers, Up the Creek raised over $10,000 for TRED’s trail building efforts.
Some comments of the ride from cyclists:
“This was my first time to ride this event. My cycling group(DAC) talks highly of this event. Very well organized and terrific volunteers and well stocked SAG stops. Nice course for the 71 mile segment. Overall, my brother and I had a tremendous time and will try to be back next year.”
“If I only do 1 ride a year, it will be the UTC.”
“LOVED the strawberry ice cream stop. I’d definitely come back just for that!!!”
“Loved the multiple choices of ride distances.”
Rome, GA-Rome resident and TRED Board of Advisor, Dan Greeson was recently awarded the Steve Reynolds “Man of the Year” by the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation at the annual lunch meeting in Atlanta. Dan was nominated by TRED President, Julie Smith, and Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful Director Mary Hardin Thornton for his dedication to keeping the Heritage Trails clean from litter and debris. The Steve Reynolds “Man of the Year” Award honors an outstanding man who has demonstrated lifelong leadership in raising public awareness about solid waste issues, litter prevention and/or the need for citizens to participate in activities that preserve and enhance natural resources and public lands. The award is dedicated to a volunteer or an employee who excels beyond his normal job description.
A retired mortgage banker, Dan would often find himself riding Rome’s Heritage Trail system and noticing that the 13.5 miles of the trails were often littered with trash and overflowing garbage cans. While public works, the Rome Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority, and the city/county are responsible for collecting garbage and trash pick up, as with any public department, the job was larger than the amount of employees. While riding on one of the most bucolic and scenic trail sections one day, Dan was struck by the juxtaposition of overflowing garbage cans and cigarette butts along the trail and how the litter took away from his experience of riding the trails. Dan then took it upon himself to transform into “Dan the Trail Clean Up Man”. Since then, Dan has been a regular feature on the Heritage Trails for two years and embodies the spirit of Steve Reynolds in his commitment to keeping the trails clean.
TRED and Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful are dually pledged to helping citizens increase their quality of life in Rome and Floyd County by keeping green spaces, trails, and urban areas clean and litter free, thereby creating a safer and move liable community.
LEFT TO RIGHT: KEVIN PERRY, KEEP GEORGIA BEAUTIFUL BOARD OF DIRECTORS, MARY HARDIN THORNTON, KRFB, JULIE SMITH, TRED, DAN GREESON, KAYLEE SARTORATO, KRFB, AND SARAH VISSER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE KEEP GEORGIA BEAUTIFUL FOUNDATION
TRED is also a stakeholder in this great project…
Posted on Nov 18, 2015
Recordings of native birdcalls played at the ceremony Tuesday marking completion of the rest areas and interactive signs on the Heritage Trail System in Rome.
“It’s a great trail system and this just adds so much to the trail,” said attendee Frank Carlton.
The birdcalls — of waterfowl — came from an interactive sign installed with the rest area on Chieftains Trail, near the State Mutual Stadium trailhead. Another rest area on the trail features songbirds.
When the improvements were being planned, the Northwest Georgia Council for Independent Living wanted something interactive for users to enjoy. They came up with the idea of signs with QR codes that link to recordings of native birdcalls.
A QR code is similar to a barcode. People can either scan the code with their smartphones or type in the link on the sign to hear the different birds.
Rome-based SAI Digital and Stereotrash Records created the interactive trail signs, which use recordings from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They include introductions describing the birds for visually impaired trail users.
The trail improvements were funded through a $69,105 grant from the Georgia Recreational Trails Program.
Rome City Commissioner Wendy Davis said the GCIL (NW GA Center for Independent Living) also helped ensure the two rest areas that feature the interactive signs are entirely handicapped-accessible.
“These areas are for everyone,” said Davis.
Mayor Jamie Doss said the trail improvements are just another step in the plans for the Rome-Floyd County trail system.
“We are serious about connecting to the Silver Comet Trail. It is a very high priority,” said Doss.
Cave Spring economy depends on tourists
“Quaint” is a word that frequently comes to mind when people think of Cave Spring. Downtown Development Director Sandra Lindsey likes that — but “thriving” is the word she’d really like associated with the historic small town in southern Floyd County.
“Remembering the past, improving the present, and building a strong future. Making available resources that encourage growth and prosperity while improving the quality of life,” is the DDA’s mission statement.
Lindsey is the first to admit that there are still a few too many empty storefronts downtown. There are also a number of buildings that could use some tender loving care.
“Unfortunately we do have vacancies. What people are looking for when they come to Cave Spring is, they are still looking for antiques,” Lindsey said. “People who have known Cave Spring in the past know that at one time we had a lot of antiques, and we still have antiques — but not as many as we did at one time.”
Christa Grant has operated Christa’s, a gifts and antiques shop, for 27 years. “My business is great,” Grant said. “I have found my niche and I make a lot of my own stuff.”
Grant believes the only types of retail shops that can make a go of it in Cave Spring are specialty shops. She said the residents would like more traditional outlets such as a women’s clothing store, but the population isn’t large enough to support one — especially when it would be competing with major chain discounters in Rome, Cedartown or Centre, Alabama.
“A lot of them, to save a dollar on something, they’ll drive to Home Depot and use all that gas. But now they’re complaining because the hardware store is gone,” Grant said to illustrate her point.
John Johnston, a member of the DDA board, said the community needs
more niche businesses.
“Standard vendors have too much competition and we’re off the beaten path.” Johnston said. “But we have a wonderful amount of square footage available in a great place for people with a niche merchandising idea.”
A town like Cave Spring really depends on tourism, Grant said, and, luckily, a main highway runs through the downtown district.
“U.S. 411 is the most wonderful customer base there is,” she said. “This time of year, leading up to Christmas, business is really good for me.”
Rip Montgomery owns The Peddler, another antiques and collectibles shop. He said the city has some prime locations that are open and need to be filled.
“I think the more we have here the more it’s going to draw people back to Cave Spring,” he said. Montgomery said the loss of Country Cousins was a big blow to the community because the boutique’s Vera Bradley and Brighton accessories drew a lot of women shoppers.
Several restaurants around the downtown square also have closed recently — including the Cave Spring Cafe, the Creekside Restaurant and the Fun Days Deli — although Linde Marie’s Steakhouse on the Square has been a success in recent years.
Lindsey said that a lot of her emphasis as DDA director has been on bringing in a broad variety of retail shops that have their own unique flair.
“We would like to be a little shopping destination,” she said.
In years gone by, she said, people drove in just to visit Country Cousins and Martha Jane’s Fudge, and “that’s what I would like to see again.”
She and the chairman of the DDA board recently attended a Georgia Department of Community Affairs workshop that reinforced the importance of small, specialty merchandisers.
Arts and recreation
The DDA is also taking steps they hope will lead to a renaissance of the city as an arts and cultural crossroads of Northwest Georgia. More recently, the city is beginning to focus on drawing visitors for recreation.
Montgomery believes there is an opportunity for someone to do something with some of the buildings on the old Georgia School for the Deaf campus a few blocks off the square — although it would have to be the right proposition.
“I don’t think that (distance) is totally bad, but one of the things I looked at when I opened mine was three things. Location, location, location,” Montgomery said. “Being on the square is vital, I think, to a business being able to thrive.”
However, the old GSD campus might be particularly attractive as an arts center, he said.
“The buildings are not too far gone but they will take a little bit of work,” Montgomery said.
Lindsey said that the DDA in Cave Spring is in the same position as Rome’s DDA to make available low-interest state loans to buy and rehabilitate buildings.
“Some of the buildings are not that attractive anymore, and I think that’s really a goal of the DDA is to get those unsightly properties fixed up,” Lindsey said.
So far, though, the loan program hasn’t been tapped. Lindsey said a number of the established businesses, such as Christa’s, were in place before there was a DDA. And although Montgomery was one of the DDA’s founders, he didn’t take advantage of the loan programs when he bought his buildings.
Jerry Maschinot, a photographer, moved to Cave Spring from downtown Atlanta almost 20 years ago. He said he’s just not sure about the potential for success of the artists cooperative that is in the development stage at the former Chrome Cowboy location on the square in Cave Spring.
“You try it and hopefully it works,” Maschinot said.
He operated a studio in Atlanta for six or seven years after he moved to Cave Spring but has since moved everything to Cave Spring.
Bringing more businesses to Cave Spring may require getting more tourists into the town.
“We need more tourism and this is why we’re so excited about the possibility of being able to tie Cave Spring to the Silver Comet Trail in Cedartown,” said Tom Lindsey, chairman of the DDA and a relative of Sandra Lindsey.
He said some businesses along the Swamp Rabbit Trail between Greenville and Travelers Rest, South Carolina, have seen an increase of up to 85 percent in their trade.
“If we can get anywhere close to that it will be fantastic for Cave Spring,” he said.
A feasibility study for the connection to the Silver Comet Trail was completed earlier this year. That study produced three route options ranging from 11 miles to 19 miles in length. Consultants are recommending its construction in four phases as funding becomes available.
The consultants’ report projects the cost for developing the connection from Cedartown to Cave Spring at a little more than $9.1 million. However, the study reports that the return on investment for trail projects nationally ranges from $3 to $12 for every dollar invested.
Three new shade-sail rest areas have been completed along the Oostanaula River levee trail, thanks to funding from a $69,105 2011 Georgia Recreational Trails Program grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Two of the new shade-sail rest areas are located between the Second Avenue and Fifth Avenue bridges, and a third is located midway between the Fifth Avenue bridge and Turner McCall Boulevard bridge. All three are equipped with benches and concrete pads.
Four more stations are being added to the network. One is behind Etowah Terrace along the Kingfisher trail beside the Etowah River. One is being built on the Oostanaula levee at the Avenue A pump station while the other two are along the trail behind State Mutual Stadium. Those two will include special signage about songbirds and waterfowl.
Crews from the Rome Street Department have done the work to install the latest round of rest stations. Rome Floyd Planning Director Sue Hiller said representatives from disAbility Link NW, an agency dedicated to serving people with a variety of disabilities, also assisted with the design appropriateness of the rest stations.
“Rome and Floyd County are committed to providing a seamless, barrier-free trail system that can be enjoyed by all users regardless of age or physical ability,” Hiller said. “Provision of these accommodations for the elderly and users with disabilities on its existing trail system helps to accomplish that goal.”
Floyd County actually started the rest station program with a $30,114 grant that was coupled with $15,000 from the Rome-Floyd Festivals Council in 2008. Those funds helped convert five parking areas along the route into accessible trailhead parking for users with disabilities. The trail access points include a bench with armrests, a level rest area for wheelchair-bound users, and signage.
Two additional rest areas in the greenway between Ridge Ferry Park and Statue Mutual Stadium were also constructed during this phase.