The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Walking trails have costs besides the upfront ones


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Feb. 11, 2017 - 6:45 AM

There are those who feel my written opinions must be about police issues in the purest sense. I am a husband, father, and grandfather to four of the cutest kids outdone only by their beautiful mothers. I have spent more than half of my life working in law enforcement, and, like most police, have developed a suspicious nature and ability to discern truth, evil, and those pure of heart.

My fellow officers used to always express their frustration in the gullibility of the general public, but I would caution them to be sympathetic to those who lack the skillset we have developed over time, trial and error.

Readers may disagree with me, but take a breath… I am seldom far from the truth. The Newnan Times-Herald has columnists who are runners, politicians, historians, liberal leaning, conservative hardliners, and highly educated specific experts in their field. If you don't get your feathers ruffled now and then, you're probably not paying attention.

Now on to the story that made my eyes bleed… greenway trails that could cost upwards of $800,000 per mile. Secluded trails meandering through the woods in an effort to connect shopping with shopping, jettison Newnan into the future of modern neighborhood development, and somehow hypnotize the populace into believing SPLOST funds are a bottomless pit… bottomless pit… bottomless pit.

From a police perspective, I was there during the Atlanta Beltline transition as it started on my patrol beat near Poncey-Highlands. It used abandoned railroad beds so there was little disturbance to the landscape or the nasty need of confiscation of private property through eminent domain laws.

The police department shifted designated bike patrols to the 22-mile beltline, but ambulances and fire trucks could not gain access due to the remote and limited nature of the trails. Robberies and assaults occurred to pedestrians, and the apprehension of perpetrators was nearly impossible due to the easy escape routes off the trails. Restaurants adjacent to the Beltline required police presence at closing times due to likely assaults to restaurant workers.

The one positive outcome: property values adjacent to the Beltline skyrocketed due to the perceived notion that it was safe and convenient for exercise. True enough, running from would-be attackers is actually very good for the cardio.

The Newnan consultants should have been directed to study the muddy pathways adjacent to established roadways (East Broad Street, Greison Trail, Bullsboro Drive, Lower Fayetteville Road to name a few). Those demonstrate established pedestrian need and usage.

Sidewalks are the more prudent plan of action as they are in plain view of passersby for assistance, easily patrolled by police, accessible to emergency equipment, provide safe footing for pedestrians or the handicapped during inclement weather, and get bicycling kids off the roadway.

Growing up, I can't remember a time or place where sidewalks weren't made available by local governments as part of their long-term strategic planning, not "political-pressure planning" as is more commonplace nowadays.

And the line in the story: "the shared-use path would have a ‘centerline’ to accommodate two-way bicycle and pedestrian traffic" grossly demonstrates the wastefulness of the project.

Why on God's green earth do you need to pay for the painting of a yellow line on a remote pathway in the woods? What's next, signage that warns against running with scissors, slow-moving pedestrians must mosey to the right, or do not run in a zigzag fashion so as to cross the centerline into oncoming pedestrian traffic?

Sidewalks are not as adventuresome as a boardwalk in the swamp, won't need an environmental study, and don't need million-dollar mile markers along the way.

W.J. Butcher