Greenway governing body might dump horses

By LARRY C. BOWERS Banner Staff Writer
Posted 1/18/17

Is it the Old Chisholm Trail or the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway?

That question surfaced this week with the publication of a photograph in a regional newspaper showing horses and riders …

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Greenway governing body might dump horses

Posted

Is it the Old Chisholm Trail or the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway?

That question surfaced this week with the publication of a photograph in a regional newspaper showing horses and riders clopping along on the Greenway.

They didn’t stampede and were not herding cattle, but one Cleveland Daily Banner reader dropped by the office to say they did leave some “business” along the trail, a mess that was not cleaned up.

Others question the safety of having such large animals on the Greenway. The popular walkway, jogging, bicycling path is used by hundreds of local residents who are often joined by their children and even their pets.

With complaints in hand, the Banner contacted Greenway authorities to confirm the rules, and just who and what is allowed on the Greenway.

Cameron Fisher, chairman of the Greenway Board, is aware of the photograph and the concerns and opinions expressed ... which have made it back to board members and others in the community.

“We have nothing in our rules which prohibit horses on the Greenway,” Fisher said Tuesday. He added this is something that was not considered, but which is now a priority and a discussion topic for the Greenway Board.

“We will be meeting on Thursday, and this is something we will discuss,” said the Greenway chairman.

The Greenway Board is a panel of community leaders, including Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis.

Other board members include Fisher, Bradley County Commissioner Milan Blake, Cleveland Councilman Bill Estes, Kim Duncan, Kathy Morelock, Will Reynolds and Annie Robbins. Appointments to the Greenway Board are made by city and county governments, the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce and Cleveland Utilities.

The two mayors were reserved with their opinions, both emphasizing that the situation would be discussed at length on Thursday.

Rowland was at a slight advantage, saying he saw the horses on the Greenway.

“The youngsters seem to admire the horses,” he said.

The Cleveland mayor said he was concerned that bicycle riders might scare the horses, since they are known to activate bells as a courtesy when passing. He added former Cleveland Police Chief Arnold Botts once had a mounted patrol of city officers who patrolled Tinsley Park, but he received several complaints about the messes they left behind.

Davis agreed with Rowland that it is an issue the Greenway Board needs to address.

“I’m pretty sure we never thought about horses (when we were establishing rules),” said the county mayor.

Greenway rules do require dog owners to clean up after their pets, and disposal baggies are made available.

The Cleveland Parks and Recreation Department, under director Patti Petitt, is in charge of maintenance of the Greenway.

Petitt, reached Tuesday afternoon, said this is not a first-time thing for the Greenway.

“We had horses on the Greenway several years ago, but they cleaned up their mess,” she said. “This time, they did not clean up the mess — because we have pictures of it.”

Asked if the horse owners could use the doggie bags to clean up after their horses, she said, “They’d have to use a lot of them.”

Petitt added she is sure the Greenway Board, an advisory panel, will come up with some ideas. She said Parks and Recreation will review the board’s advice, and make recommendations to the Cleveland City Council.

“In the end, it should be their call,” she emphasized.

Rules and regulations for the Greenway are posted at opportune locations, but as Fisher said, the rules do not mention horses. That may change following this week’s board meeting.

The Greenway is a 4-mile linear park maintained by the Cleveland Parks and Recreation department.

It weaves along State Route 2 (Keith Street) from Willow Street to Mohawk Drive. The path follows South Mouse Creek and crosses the waterway in four locations.

Highlights include an 18-space parking area, four pedestrian bridges that cross Mouse Creek, and eight road underpasses (Mohawk Drive, Paul Huff Parkway, Mouse Creek Road, Raider Drive, Keith Street, 25th Street, 20th Street, and 17th Street).

There is a playground, two restroom facilities and a connection to the Prayer Walk Plaza at the Church of God International Offices.

The Greenway was constructed in phases. Phase 1 (.57 mile) was from 25th to 20th Street, Phase 2 (.8 mile) was from Raider Drive to 25th Street, Phase 3 .51 mile) was from 20th to Willow Street, Phase 4 (.75 mile) was from Mohawk Drive to Tinsley Park, Phase 5 (1.17 miles) from Tinsley Park to Raider Drive.

Phase 6 is expected to be the next phase, just under one-half mile from Willow Street to Inman Street.

Future plans include the extension of the walkway from The Village Green Town Center (to the south), all the way to the Hiwassee River in north Bradley County near Charleston.

The Greenway began as a vision of a few citizens intent on improving the quality of life in the community.

Between 1998 and 2001, grants and land donations were accepted from several local businesses to fund the construction, and the first phase was completed in October 2001. This was the only section of the Greenway for several years.

Phase 2 was built in early 2005, and a section of the north part was built in 2006, while at the same time, work began on the southern part. Phase 3 was built between 2007 and 2008, and Phase 4 was added between 2009 and 2010.

The last planned section completed, Phase 5, was finished in 2011, nearly 10 years after the beginning of the first section. An extension was built from the north end in the summer of 2013 to connect to a nearby neighborhood.

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