By Heather Huber, New Era Community Writer
Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2014
The North Drive trail head was full of walkers, bikers and four-legged friends Saturday morning as Mayor Dan Kemp and community members officially opened the Hopkinsville Greenway System.
“This is a day to celebrate, not only the completion of Phase 1 of the greenway, but also a day to promote a healthy lifestyle,” Kemp said.
The first phase of the rail-trail is about 3 miles long and runs from North Drive to Pardue Lane. For Saturday’s dedication, 14 information booths were set up along a section of the rail-trail that forks off from the North Drive trail head to the public library.
“It really does emphasize the holistic approach to healthy initiatives,” City Administrative Coordinator Nikki Radford said. “It’s not just a one-day event. You think about it with what you eat, you think about it with your overall health care. We wanted to emphasize the relative safety of the trail with the police and fire department so people could get accustomed to the vehicles they might see on the trail.”
Although people have already been using the trail for months, Radford said the mayor wanted to officially open it to continue encouraging people to use it.
“While the physical trail, most of it was laid, we still had lighting to install and sponsorship signs and recognition of those contributions,” she said. “We wanted to anticipate enough time for the trail construction so we could have the launch and official ribbon cutting as soon as possible after the trail’s completion.”
Council member Marby Schlegel took the chance to talk about the city council’s dedication to improving the quality of life for the people of Hopkinsville as well as to encourage people to settle in the city.
“This trail is really the ultimate of the whole picture of what we’re doing because this is for the young and old,” she said.
The idea for the rail-trail originated about 20 years ago by the Pennyrile Rail Trail Foundation. Tim Moore, owner of Bikes and Moore, spoke on behalf of the association that has worked so long to get the project off the ground.
“I feel a change in the air in Hopkinsville. I think good things are coming, good things are happening,” he said. “In a state where we’re ranked 45 out of 50 in health — that’s not necessarily a good thing, but I think we can change that. I think we can turn that around. And this trail is going to do a lot to make that happen.”
Moore joked that when the foundation began last century, he thought the foundation could clear the paths themselves in just a few weekends.
“I was probably the most naïve one in the group,” he said.
Moore also brought several bikes for walkers to test on the trail during the fun walk and ride.
The second phase of the rail-trail will run from Pardue Lane to Tie Breaker Park. Design work and funding have not been presented to the council.
“We really just want to keep encouraging people to come out and make extensive use of it,” Radford said. “We just really are excited about that. The fall is such a beautiful time to be in these parts. We want them to be able to have that nature feel in the heart of downtown.”
Reach Heather Huber at 270-887-3238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.