Last night I attended the Our One Mile meeting sponsored by the Freshwater Land Trust.
Our One Mile seeks to establish and connect over 100 miles of greenways in Jefferson County.
Bessemer is part of Jefferson County, but you wouldn't know it because of the lack of elected official representation at the meeting. Mayors and council members and even school board members from other cities in the County were there.
What is a greenway, you ask?
A greenway is a long, narrow piece of land used for recreation, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic. A greenway can be anything from a narrow grassy path or a concrete sidewalk to a wooded trail. Greenways can connect neighborhoods, parks and businesses to downtown city streets.
Our One Mile will be a system of greenways through which you will be able to walk or bike from your home to such daily destinations as parks, schools, libraries or shopping areas - without the car.
That's not one of today's progressives saying that. It's from the Olmstead Brothers, who developed "A Park System for Birmingham" in 1924 that city leaders failed to implement. that was a missed opportunity.
Now we have another chance.
One hundred fifty or so people crowded the room and each person was able to suggest a trail or two. I proposed the connection from the greenway near the Hall of History in Bessemer to Red Mountain Park south of the city by way of the "high line" railroad trestle and rail bed that curves to parallel 14th street.
They had large maps of the county and wax pencils that we could use to draw our trail, and I drew this one. I also personally pitched the connection to Brian Rushing, the Director of Land Conservation for the Freshwater Land Trust (who I found out had learned a bit about Bessemer from this blog) and to Jane Ross of Goodwyn Mills and Cawood who is the Landscape Architect heading up that aspect of the project. They both expressed keen interest in the connection.
Whether this trail becomes a reality will depend a lot on the new mayor and new council and their attitudes toward developing greenways in our city. They can expect the same information from me that I gave the group last night.
They will learn that studies have shown that green spaces and parks positively impact a community by increasing tourism, sustainability, health, water quality, biodiversity, transportation, recreation, business and quality of life. These are all measurable benefits that could be impacted in a positive way with this trail.
I agree with how the Auburn University Urban Studio described such a connection in 2007.
"This extension of Red Mountain park west to Highway 150 could transform the city."
Well, only if Bessemer connects to it.
Here's a short video about Red Mountain Park.
Our One Mile is a partnership between the Freshwater Land Trust, Goodwyn Mills Cawood, Clarus Consulting Group, Health Action Partnership and Modern Brand.