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Wednesday, 09 February 2011 20:37

Greenways are pretty good all the way around

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One of the nicest things about Franklin is the town’s greenway along the Little Tennessee River.

The greenway has become a uniting feature in Macon County. Work started on the project in the late 1990s, and seeing it through to completion required the partnership and labor of many. As a result of all this hard work, today there are five miles or so of trail, bridges over the river, shelters, playgrounds and more. The greenway is something folks from many different walks of life enjoy, and on any given day, you’ll find old people, young people, runners, walkers and picnickers.

I have jogged on Franklin’s greenway. I’ve gone bird watching along it. I’ve paddled a kayak up and down the river by way of the beautiful and convenient put-in that’s been built. I’ve sat many a time by the Little Tennessee and eaten lunch under one of the greenway shelters. These shelters are my preferred dining halls whenever I’m working on a Macon County-based news article.

I do regret the greenway wasn’t available when I lived and worked full-time in Macon County. Before it was built, accessing the river in Franklin was a mucky, muddy affair. The only people who usually bothered were a few stalwart fishermen and the town’s winos. They (the winos, though maybe the fishermen, too) nipped and napped under the bridges.

Having designated greenways in such a nature-abundant region as Western North Carolina seems nonsensical, perhaps. A waste of taxpayer dollars and a waste of land that might be better put to use in more practical ways — for jobs, or for homes, or for other similar utilitarian-type uses that aren’t so, well, airy-fairy and urban-sounding.

I admit to feeling a bit that way at one time.

These days, however, thanks to the Little Tennessee River Greenway in Franklin, I embrace the whole concept of greenways. The more the merrier, including one I hope in Jackson County, where I’m living now.

During a recent work session held by commissioners, the greenway folks in Jackson County warned that it could take years to pull the project here together. Right-of-way issues seem to present the biggest, time-delaying obstacle.

So, if you own land along the Tuckasegee where Jackson County wants to build its greenway (there’s apparently 10 or 12 of you, most of whom have shown a willingness to participate), please hurry up and sign the papers: for me, and for you.

For you because my understanding is a greenway will enhance the value of your property. I’m certainly envious — not so much about any increase in land values you’ll enjoy, but because of the enjoyment you’ll get from access to county-maintained trails built near your homes. There they will be whenever you feel the urge to run, to walk, or to easily and safely get down to the river for fishing and boating and picnicking — what could be better, for me and for you?

If, as a property owner or general resident of Jackson County, you still harbor doubts, take a short drive over Cowee Mountain and stroll along the greenway in Franklin. I believe, like me, you’ll become an instant convert.

(Quintin Ellison is a staff writer for The Smoky Mountain News and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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