Four years ago, the city of Waynesboro celebrated the opening of its Greenway Trail that includes an exercise course and links downtown to schools, library, recreation and several neighborhoods.
The community has embraced the trail. According to one official, several residents walk it daily and on weekends it’s a popular spot for individuals and families for working out, taking leisurely strolls and biking.
Now Waynesboro officials are exploring the possibility of developing several spurs through other neighborhoods for similar leisure activities. While City Manager Jerry Coalson said the development of four or five other loops in different parts of town is being discussed, a plan and timeline have yet to be formalized. And it may take a while since some of the areas being considered involve acquiring property from owners as well as design work and coming up with the funds for development.
Coalson said walking trails are a benefit for residents for a number of reasons including health and recreation but also can be a draw for tourists.
“We understand we are not going to be an Augusta, Savannah or something like that…but we’re a little better than a bedroom community,” said Coalson, adding that enhancing the city’s quality of life will make it more attractive to potential tourists as well as prospective residents.
The Greenway Trail, which officially opened Dec. 4, 2010, had been in the planning stage for a long time, beginning in 2004 as a Georgia Department of Transportation Enhancement Project. The renovated Waynesboro Ice Plant serves as the trailhead and links downtown to the library, softball and baseball fields, four schools and several neighborhoods. The scenic portion of the trail begins behind the old TG&Y building and comes out behind the Burke County Middle School. The trail goes along an old railroad bed and by McIntosh Creek. It is open to the walkers, joggers and those on bicycles, scooters, skateboards and other non-motorized modes of transportation.
“More and more people in the mornings are running and jogging,” said Coalson. “Twenty years ago it was rare to see people jogging unless it was a football player. Now you see it every morning.”Coalson said the existing greenway project includes 2.1 miles of renovated sidewalks as well as paved trails.
The project, which included addressing drainage issues, cost $670,000 and was partially funded through a $500,000 Department of Transportation grant, according to Coalson.
In 2003 Waynesboro’s city council recognized that it previously hadn’t focused enough on enhancing some aspects of city life for residents, the city manager said.
“Quality of life is something we had left behind,” said Coalson, adding that developing a walking trail became priority one.
Waynesboro, known as the bird dog capital of the world, is a city with 6,000 residents.