MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (Dec. 14, 2016) – With ribbon cutting and fanfare, officials opened the North Murfreesboro Greenway today, delivering new hiking, jogging, cycling and horseback riding opportunities to the public.
The celebration highlighted the completion of improvements to the Walter Hill trailhead, featuring three miles of new trails, combined equestrian and multi-use parking facility at Coleman Farm, and new connection to the popular 18-mile Twin Forks Equestrian Trail.
The city of Murfreesboro and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District signed an agreement in July 2014 to design and construct improvements to the trail system and support facilities on the upper J. Percy Priest Lake along the East Fork of the Stones River.
Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, Nashville District commander, said the Corps of Engineers exists to serve the nation, and so it feels great being able to partner with Murfreesboro to bring this project to fruition because it benefits people who love nature and being outdoors.
“Just like the trail, there has been a lot of bends and turns and bumps” overcoming the challenges with funding and constructing this project, Murphy said.
The commander lauded the Corps of Engineers’ project delivery team, which managed the project and worked very hard over the past several years with contractors to deliver on the greenway improvements.
“Sometimes it’s very hard on the outside to see the amount of work that has to get done,” Murphy said. “We are extremely thorough. When you get a project from the Corps, the Corps of Engineers Castle on that means you have a good product.”
Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland said it is fitting that the city council and parks and recreation can provide residents with new recreational opportunities as a Christmas present during the holiday season.
The mayor credited the work of Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation, city council, in particular Councilman Doug Young, and the vision of former Congressman Bart Gordon. Without them the greenway trail system would not be a reality in Murfreesboro today, he said.
“Anytime on the weekend or during the week days that you go out and you see all the people on our greenway I can tell you it is extremely well used and utilized,” McFarland said. “This is a great example of a partnership with the Corps that shows how we all can work together for the greater good of our community, not only for Murfreesboro, but for all the people in our region and for our country.”
D. Edwin Jernigan, Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Commission chairman, said he also values the great relationship with the Corps of Engineers, and gives credit to the mayor and city council members, who supports parks and recreation with great leadership and vision.
“It’s what sets us apart from other communities,” Jernigan said. “I truly think this is the crown jewel of our parks and rec system. It’s utilized by every range of citizen that we have. You can’t say that for every facility other than the greenway. I’m thrilled to have it.”
Gordon, who represented Tennessee District 6 in Congress from 1985 to 2011 and is a lifelong resident of Murfreesboro, said the effort to improve quality of life with this project by all of the many players boiled down to patience and persistence and planning.
He praised progress of the greenway and how the city has managed to connect together the recreational pieces for the good of the community.
“After being elected in 1984, one of my dreams was to have a linear park that would go through Murfreesboro, connect some of our historic and our natural resources, and do it through some of this area that is sort of thrown away – the flood plains,” Gordon said.
Gordon said his greater vision is to someday see the greenways and trails connect Nashville to Lavergne to Smyrna to Murfreesboro.
GCCS, Inc., and Adams Contracting, LLC, both located in Lexington Ky., constructed the greenway improvements under the direction of the Corps of Engineers.
Tom Herbert, Nashville District project manager, said the Corps completed an environmental assessment and feasibility report in 2013, and project design in 2015. Construction began in February 2016.
Following the ceremony those in attendance were able to walk along the trail to the overlooks to enjoy the scenery on the new stretch of greenway.
Jack and Beth Harrell, Murfreesboro residents, took advantage of the opportunity and said they like to ride their horses on the horse trail, and also like hiking and riding their bikes on the greenway.
“You give us a horse trail, a hiking trail, a place to ride our bicycle on, here in one place, how good is that?” Jack said. “It’s right here in our back yard. It’s real nice. We’re happy to have it.”
Beth said she is very proud of the parks and recreation in Murfreesboro.
“We feel very privileged that we have all those opportunities,” Beth said. “Murfreesboro is a fast growing area – Rutherford County is. This is just one of the reasons why Murfreesboro is a great place to live,” Jack added.
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