“What is a connector?” you might ask.
The official Greenway runs from Willow Street north along Mouse Creek, ending at Mohawk Drive when it is completed later this year. A connector is a path that will eventually lead someone to the Greenway.
In a previous column I explained the “Greenway Network,” a set of eight independent paths in the city, such as at the YMCA, Westwood Baptist Church and Schimmels Park at Lee University. Many of our local schools have these self-contained “mini-greenways” on their property.
In 2006, a 3.7-mile downtown Greenway “connector” was unveiled which mapped a route that takes you from the Greenway at Willow Street on a tour of downtown using existing sidewalks and places you back on the Greenway. The route is marked with Greenway logos painted on the sidewalks. A map of the route is on the website at www.cbcgreenway.com.
What was dedicated on Aug. 23 represents a visionary partnership that involved more than one group to bring connectivity via a Greenway. Two years ago, developers of the Spring Creek retail and housing project approached the Greenway board about how to connect their new venture with the community, particularly a way to allow the residents of nearby neighborhoods, Lee University and the downtown area easy access to Spring Creek and vice-versa.
They envisioned a walking trail similar to the Greenway, and to kick-start the project they installed a sidewalk and a 7-foot-high passage under 25th Street at the site of where they donated land for a future Veteran’s Park. The trail emerges on the south side of 25th Street and has remained for two years waiting for further development.
Also about two years ago, Ocoee Middle School Principal Ron Spangler was writing a grant proposal to the Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) committee seeking funds to install a culvert and trail that would bring pedestrians from 20th Street to their track and soccer field east of Parker Street. The HCI Committee recognized the health, wellness and quality of life the proposed track would bring so the group granted the $25,000 request and the culvert was installed, along with the base for a future path. The Fillauer family, who owns the land on which the trail runs, graciously granted the right-of-way.
The two sections remained unconnected until earlier this year when The Retreat at Spring Creek, the new 199-unit townhouse development, announced their wishes to see the trail finished and offered a $13,000 donation to get the project up and running again. Their donation was what was needed to build a culvert across Fillauer Branch and finish the paving of the half-mile section. Last Tuesday, the ribbon was cut and Cleveland now has a new Greenway.
Many thanks are due to those who contributed to this project whether through donations, logistics, labor or vision. They represent the future of our Greenway system in Cleveland and Bradley County. It is my hope that others observe this example and are inspired to help us find ways to feasibly expand the system to benefit and connect as many people and businesses as possible.