A 10-foot-wide paved recreation easement overlying or parallel to an existing sewer line easement to be landscaped and made attractive for both users and property owners has been proposed in Bristol, Tennessee.
The concrete facts and data supporting the expense of such worthwhile projects include the measurable mental and physical health improvements in such communities’ citizens, the impressive and measurable reduction in health care expenses, and nationwide nearly $60 billion in state and local tax revenues which help reduce property taxes.
Trails and bike paths are inclusive, promoting social, racial, gender and economic equity. The desirability effect of bike paths adjacent to residential areas has been measured and confirmed in multiple cities with the majority showing an increase or no net effect on property values. No study has shown an adverse effect on property value and the United States Realtors Association has officially endorsed their construction. Crime has been found to mirror that of surrounding areas; trails and bike paths do not, in and of themselves, attract crimes. These are facts and in the public domain.
As might have been predicted, this proposal has been met with a few vocal adjacent property owners who have asserted without evidence a decrease in property value, an increase in crime, and “irreversible community damage,” exactly the same unfounded hysteria vented in the early stages of both the Virginia Creeper Trail and the Mendota Trail.
Valid concerns such as litter, excessive noise or unauthorized use by motor vehicles will be addressed proactively and with resolve in the construction and long-term plan.
It is my hope as well as a majority in the community that this greenway will proceed and others like it will follow. Making Bristol a better place to live requires all of our best efforts. Doing the right thing is rarely the easy thing, and City Council deserves to be recognized for its leadership role in this endeavor.