The other day, I took an hour walk through the woods near our lake house in Wedowee, AL. Truthfully, I was scouting for deer. I was looking for trails, food sources, and most importantly, water.
When I returned home, I reflected on the afternoon and focused on how much I enjoy nature. Being in a natural environment brings peace, balance, and for me, a closer relationship with God as I look upon His creation.
I also thought about cities around the country that are protecting certain areas from growth in order to provide walking trails, exercise courses, nature areas, and “loops” around their cities.
As an example that I hope all cities of west Georgia will take a look at, I am going to briefly illustrate the amazing project in my hometown, the Carrollton GreenBelt. The Carrollton GreenBelt is a linear city park that includes a 16-mile hard surface trail system that loops around the City of Carrollton. Today, the city is about 90 percent finished with the project.
Like many others, I am proud that our community is so blessed to have this nature loop. I also love the convenience. When I walk up my driveway to get the mail, the GreenBelt is 40 yards from where I stand. Oftentimes, this is the way that I begin my walk.
Each year, thousands of people bike, walk, run, or just take a stroll on different parts of the GreenBelt. I have seen children in strollers as well as men and women in their 90’s enjoy their time outdoors. You will see friends, neighbors, and others in the community getting the benefit of nature and exercise as well.
I have walked most of the Green Belt. It is a diverse trail. Some sections, like Maple St. and the University of West Georgia, run through busy parts of town. Other parts, like the Hobbs area are quiet, filled with woods and fields, and full of wildlife. A brisk walk on any part of the GreenBelt always brightens the rest of my day.
Other west Georgia cities, including Newnan and LaGrange, have expressed an interest in building their own looping trail systems. With enough financing, community commitment, and strong leadership, these projects can be done.
While the GreenBelt is a huge asset to Carrollton, I am sure that many of you wonder who and how something like this gets paid for.
In this example, the Carrollton Greenbelt was planned, started, and built by the successful partnering of the public sector and private sector. Governments cannot do these projects alone. Individual and corporate donations are a big factor. For instance, around 80 percent of the cost of building the GreenBelt was and still is being paid for by the private sector.
The GreenBelt benefits our community in other ways as well.
Every county and city seeks to attract businesses to move or relocate into their area. These businesses analyze several factors before they choose a location. One of the main factors in their decision-making is the quality of life in that county/city. The GreenBelt has and will continue to help attract businesses which provide for new jobs, higher wages, higher tax revenue, and a healthier, stronger economy.
Lastly, there is the issue of ongoing upkeep, repairs, and minor changes in the GreenBelt. There again, the public and private sectors can and do work together. The two simplest and best ways for people and corporations to donate to the Carrollton GreenBelt are to visit www.carrolltongreenbelt.com and/or the Community Foundation of West Georgia.
During this time of Thanksgiving, I would humbly ask that you consider donating to the most beautiful part of Carrollton.
Lastly, I invite all of west Georgia to take a few hours and see the GreenBelt for yourself. You will see that it is much more than I could explain in this column.
Happy Thanksgiving