Today, more and more recognize an altogether different — but just as beneficial — use of the fitness trail. It is called transportation.
In its infancy some 12 years ago, most who utilized the winding concrete and asphalt path did so for its obvious health benefits.
Fast- and slow-paced walkers walked.
Variably paced joggers jogged.
Smiling bicyclists basked in the appreciated luxury of a safe spin.
And the same is true for skateboarders, roller skaters and the many animal lovers who simply wanted a convenient lane to walk their leashed pets.
All appreciated the Greenway for its presence, albeit for different reasons.
All the above groups still make regular use of the path — January through December — but the latest to discover this green greatness are those who want to get from Point A to Point B. Assuredly, the Greenway is rapidly becoming a safe haven for those who use their feet or their pedals or their rollers to arrive at a destination point.
Remember, the four-mile Greenway now stretches from Willow Street all the way north to Mohawk Drive which is a stone’s throw from The Home Depot. But stay tuned. In the short- and long-term future, it is a sure bet the route will get even longer as its people-friendly reach continues the quest to connect downtown Cleveland’s Village Green all the way north to the Hiwassee River. Surely, it will take many, many years — a period that might even outdistance the imagination of its current planners — but given the right amount of patience, a good dose of perseverance and a consistent source of funding, its goals are achievable.
But that’s only from south to north and north to south.
What about the other directions? East and west have a lot going for them as well, especially in the realm of transportation.
Such a question points to the importance of a recent visit to Cleveland by Gov. Bill Haslam who came bearing gifts made possible by our tax dollars.
As our newspaper has already reported, one was a $75,000 check for a modern, energy-efficient roof atop the South Cleveland Community Center. Over the next 20 years, it is projected this new “thermoplastic polyolefin membrane” will save the center, and the city of Cleveland’s operational budget, some $323,000.
The second gift is much larger. It totals $495,000 and is the funding required to build the Greenway an east-west spur connector from the area of Blythe Ferry Road, North Ocoee Street and the Ocoee Crossing to the existing fitness path. Once completed, its health benefits will carry the same impact as its five predecessor phases, but an added importance will be the spur’s transportation benefits to area neighborhoods and the families who call them home.
To better describe the new spur’s route, we will borrow from a description used by Cameron Fisher, Greenway board chairman, in a recent “Keeping It Green” column. It reads:
“The new path ... will begin (or end) at the current Greenway in Tinsley Park at the pedestrian bridge where it crosses Mouse Creek. It will continue east around the main ballfields following Fillauer Branch which empties into Mouse Creek near that location. The spur will leave Tinsley Park at the Keith Street entrance where it will travel under Keith Street toward the BI-LO Shopping Center. It will continue to follow Fillauer Branch until connecting with a new sidewalk near Logan’s and paralleling Ocoee Crossing. The spur will terminate at the corner of North Ocoee Street and Ocoee Crossing. New sidewalks on the west side of North Ocoee are also part of the project.”
Nowhere is it written, at least not to our knowledge, that the Greenway must follow only a northerly or southerly direction.
And that’s a good thing ... because, to quote Fisher from an interview with our newspaper when speaking of an eastern and western trail, “There’s people there, too.”
To borrow from the mind of poet Robert Frost, sometimes “the road less traveled” is less traveled because it doesn’t exist. For the neighborhoods of North Ocoee Street and outlying areas, soon it will.