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Proposed plan will connect towns’ trails

Erwin officials review a map of a proposed plan that would connect the Linear Trail with Unicoi’s Pinnacle Trail. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

A proposed plan to build a multi-use trail through Unicoi County was introduced during a special called joint meeting of the Town of Erwin and the Town of Unicoi held at Erwin Town Hall on Thursday, Sept. 12.

During the meeting, CDM Smith project managers Chris Kirby and Melody Butler were on hand to present a proposed plan to build a 4.5 mile, multi-use bike and pedestrian trail that would connect Erwin’s Linear Trail to Unicoi’s Pinnacle Trail. The proposed trail would run along Highway 107 from Erwin to Unicoi.

According to Kirby, if the towns move forward with the project, then the planning stage can begin to look for grants and start talking numbers.

“We are looking at building a case for future revenue by starting this study,” Kirby said. “It’s a really big deal that shows that two communities want to build something great and what I see is this would connect not only Erwin and Unicoi, but could lead to a connection into Johnson City.”

Kirby acknowledged that the proposed trail could be built in phases.

“You can find the funding to build the trail in phases. However the money comes in, you can work for the endgame, and that is a completed trail,” Kirby said. “We hope to find as much grant funding as we can if they agree on the project.”

According to Kirby, this was the first of many meetings planned in regards to the proposed project.

“(The Tennessee Department of Transportation) requires both towns to agree on a plan before we can go forward,” Kirby said. “This is just the start of the planning phase.”

The next step would depend on both BMAs agreeing on the initial plans.

“Both of the boards would have to be in agreement to move forward,” Kirby said. “The next step would be to look at getting grants and with both towns being unified would go a long way on that search.”

Town of Erwin City Recorder Glenn Rosenoff acknowledged that the Town of Erwin could be voting on the proposal as soon as the October Town of Erwin BMA meeting.

Officials from the Town of Unicoi did not attend the meeting on Sept. 12. According to Town of Unicoi attorney Lois Shults-Davis, who was present last week, representatives from Unicoi needed more notice to prepare for the meeting.

“We hope to present to the Town of Unicoi soon, and we hope that both towns vote on the matter soon,” Kirby said last week. “I know Unicoi would need at least 10 days; so hopefully we can schedule something in the next 14 days.”

The Town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen met on Monday, Sept. 16, and heard the trail proposal from Butler and TDOT representative Ronda Sawyer at that time. For information on that meeting, see the story below.


Town of Unicoi BMA hears trail proposal

The Town of Unicoi joined the Town of Erwin in hearing a proposed plan for a multi-use trail along Highway 107.

During a regularly scheduled meeting of the Town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Alderman on Monday, Sept. 16, CDM Smith project manager Melody Butler and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) representative Ronda Sawyer presented the proposed 4.5-mile bike and pedestrian trail which, if built, would connect Unicoi’s Pinnacle Trail and Erwin’s Linear Trail.

“This is something that is already paid for,” Sawyer said of the study. “TDOT provided 90 percent of the funding and Erwin and Unicoi only had to find 10 percent for this study. Our main purpose here is for feedback.”

The grant was for $90,000 to survey the trail. The towns paid roughly $4,500 each for the survey.

“These are just conceptual plans – nothing is concrete,” Butler said. “By adopting this plan you open the door for further funding. This gives you so much more leverage for future grants by completing this adopted plan.”

According to Town of Unicoi City Recorder Debbie Kessler, there is no date set to vote on the proposed trail.

Town of Erwin officials heard about the proposed plan during a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 12. For information on that meeting, see the story above.

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In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Tysinger, Hampton and Partners to build a new bridge at R.W. Estates Drive, following a motion to approve the contract by Town of Unicoi Alderman Jeff Linville and a second by Town of Unicoi Alderwoman Wanda Radford.

During Monday’s meeting, the board listened to a request by Tysinger, Hampton and Partners’ Project Manager Gary Tysinger to build the replacement bridge at R.W. Estates Drive over Dry Creek Bridge prior to the vote.

“This would be paid for by TDOT and by building this bridge, a future road could be added,” Tysinger said. “I would recommend replacing the old bridge with the new bridge.”

In a final order of business, the BMA voted unanimously to send a letter to correct the right of way at 838 Marbleton Road, Unicoi. According to Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch, the road had been moved in the past, and the state would need a letter that the stretch of road be adopted by the Town of Unicoi as a right of way, making the town responsible for upkeep.

The motion to approve a letter be sent to the state was made by Linville and was seconded by Radford.

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According to Kessler, the Town of Unicoi has received several applications for the position of Town of Unicoi police chief.

“We hope to have four interviews set up for Thursday, Sept. 19, and Friday Sept. 20,” Kessler said.

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The Town of Unicoi will host the Pinnacle Trail Challenge on Saturday, Sept. 28. Heritage Days will be held at Bogart Bowman Cabin on Oct. 18 for area schools only and on Oct. 19 for the general public.

For more information and updates, please follow the Town of Unicoi on Facebook.