Johnson City, Tennessee • Southside Neighborhood Organization
< This is a re-post of an open letter from SNO President - MacBryan Green >
Dear Mayor Myron:
Thank you for your enthusiastic response to the walking trail possibilities which I suggested to you following the Tuesday evening Neighborhood Action Committee meeting. Such graciousness does not go unnoticed.
As you requested for purposes of pursuing those ideas, a detailed description follows:
Lester Harris from Fairmont School to Forest Avenue -- When I was a schoolboy, this was an excellent trail through the woods along a tiny creek, with a crushed gravel surface and a culvert/bridge. Why it was allowed to disappear is a mystery to me. It would provide an exceptionally useful shortcut for walking and biking for all the residents north of Fairmont School.
DeVine Street from Poplar to Chestnut Street -- I believe that the City still owns one-half of the usual R.O.W., and this shortcut would encourage residents to walk to Veterans Park and Walnut Street.
Chestnut Street from Buffalo Street to Powell Square Park -- The road was abandoned when the grade on Buffalo was improved, but a simple gravel trail with a few steps would encourage walking from the Preas Hill and Roan Hill neighborhoods to Powell Square Park and Roan Street.
Sevier Street from Franklin Street to Laurel Avenue -- Another unused R.O.W. which could instantly be turned into a pedestrian pass-through to provide a safe loop for walking by elderly residents of those streets, as well as a convenient/safer/quieter route for Tree Streets residents walking to Walgreens.
Steps from Virginia Street dead-end to University Parkway/Golf Course -- For approximately a mile, there is no pedestrian access from the Tree Streets to University Parkway, between Franklin Street and Knox Street. Simple pedestrian steps above the Cherokee Road/University Parkway traffic light would cure this oversight.
Walking trails around the perimeter of Pine Oaks Golf Course, and on to Buffalo Mountain Park -- The biggest and maybe the best of these suggestions. I take joy in seeing Buffalo Mountain's peak out the window as I wash dishes, knowing that I have several times walked from my house to that peak. But (since golf balls can be lethal) that hike has always been on a day too cold or windy for golfing. True fitness advocates would surely use this trail often, since it would offer an instant escape from city traffic for a five-mile walk/jog.
24 Hour Safety Zone along Watauga Avenue, from Walnut Street to Roan Street -- There is no truly safe after-dark route between the north side of town (e.g. Gilmer Park, Gump Addition, Oak Park) and the Tree Streets plus ETSU. I know many individuals who would walk home from Down Home or parties across town if there were a safe route. If street lighting were tripled, and security cameras plus panic boxes installed, and police patrols on the hour and half-hour established, and prominent signage identifying this as the safest route across town displayed, the Safety Zone could produce many, many benefits.
My guess is that all of the above projects could be accomplished for less than will be spent on the new State of Franklin Street 'walking trail' from ETSU to downtown which can offer only a stroll in the blazing sun alongside fast-moving traffic with all the noise and exhaust fumes of that bleak four-lane street. [The Boones Creek Road 'bike trail' which is actually only an expansion of the hot, hectic pavement comes to mind.] But maybe with your enthusiasm, the City can be persuaded to create fitness/walking trails so beautiful and genuinely useful that people will eagerly use them.
MacBryan Green, MD
404 Holly Street
Johnson City, TN 37604-7312