|As part of Dalton's new greenway project, the city's downtown will connect with a new greenway trail on the adjacent mountain as illustrated above.|
The power of images is undeniable; where words may be effective in stimulating the imagination, words with images deliver a concrete concept. With that idea in mind, Dalton commissioned a video, now available on YouTube, about its greenway project. The video has facilitated success in the city’s quest for funds to build the project.
“We’ve applied for grant resources through various state departments such as the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources,” explained Dalton City Administrator Ty Ross. “We were very successful in our application process in large part due to the video, which explained to the grant coordinators that we indeed had a plan and the resources allocated to us will be well spent.”
Dalton’s plan is to build bike/walk/run trails that connect neighborhoods and the downtown area to the city’s cultural amenities and its natural resources, like Mount Rachel. The city has received a $500,000 transportation enhancement grant from GDOT and a $100,000 grant from DNR for the project. The city has already set aside the 20 percent match both grants require.
The city calls the project Dalton’s green hat.
“We thought the term ‘green hat’ was an appropriate because we saw a river, we saw a lake and we saw a mountain, all just to the north of the city,” Ross explained. “If you were drawing in the abstract, it looked a green hat on top of the town. When you think of the north Georgia Mountains, you think green but what we want to put together is an eco-experience that is comparable to great communities like Chattanooga or Savannah.”
With the greenway project, Dalton is also vying to emulate the success Chattanooga and Savannah enjoy with their vibrant downtowns and tourism industry.
“We have the seeds in place for a weekend experience that is very desirable,” Ross said. “We have historic Civil War sites, we have museums dedicated to our industrial past and we have outdoor recreational amenities; if you can connect all those things together, it becomes a marketable package.”
Dalton Mayor David Pennington also sees the greenway project as a way to get residents moving and physically fit and to attract new residents looking for outdoor recreation opportunities.
“We are trying to become a place where young professionals want to live,” Pennington said. “We have young professionals who will drive to Dalton to work but don’t live here. We know young people desire green areas and walking paths.”
Attracting young people is a part of the city’s economic development strategy.
“If you don’t have young professionals, your economic vitality will decline,” Pennington said. “Young people are the risk takers. They will use the city’s very extensive assets to create new businesses.”
The total greenway project is expected to cost in excess of $10 million. Ross said construction on the first phase of the project is targeted to start sometime this year and be complete by late 2012.
“We will be starting this project in the historic Crown Mill Village and these parks and trails will promote the redevelopment of this area,” Ross explained. “Now, Crown Mill Village is designated as a depressed census tract, which will allow us to access federal Community Development Block Grant funding. We will be able to leverage that CDBG funding with our T-grant and DNR grant. All these grants are small individually, if you pull them together, you reach that $1 million level where you can make somewhat of an impact.”
The city envisions the greenway project to serve as a catalyst for more private development.
“When you put in this type of infrastructure, development follows,” Ross said. “The project will start the creation of a more livable community. These connections will make driving a car less of a necessity.”