In 2011, a group of trail advocates came to Atlanta and asked PATH to help them build a trail around the City of Carrollton. We were intrigued by the opportunity and decided to meet with the local “Friends of the GreenBelt” group to see the proposed project first-hand.
At the first Friends of the GreenBelt meeting, the goal of building the sixteen milelong trail in just five years was introduced by the chairman of the group, Laura Richards. The goal will be acheived this month as crews put the final touches on the completed GreenBelt Trail.
The PATH design team initially reviewed the proposed route and offered a few suggestions before diving into construction. The Implementation Team put together by the Friends group, consisted of Friends members, the city manager, the parks director, a pro-bono attorney, an engineer, fire rescue and police representatives, a pro-bono real estate consultant, the director of the Community Foundation, and the PATH design team. Erica Studdard was hired as the Executive Director of the group to act as the point person for the project. This Implentation Team is already being studied and duplicated by other jurisdictions interested in developing similar projects.
The Carrollton GreenBelt is not built on abandoned railbeds or streets; instead, routing took advantage of vacant parkland, undeveloped tracts, edges of schools and shopping centers, and ultimately a community that embraced the project and granted over seventy easements over private property for the trail.
No two miles of the GreenBelt are alike. It traverses parks, meanders along the shoreline of the Tallapoosa River, visits shopping centers, connects through schools, and weaves through factory parking lots. Much of the right-of-way was covered in Kudzu and given up as floodplain. Now it is a linear park that encircles the city only a mile or two from the town square.
Carrollton is less than an hour from Atlanta out I-20 West. The new Garden Inn in downtown on the square is a great place to stay on overnight trips. The restaurants, bars, and shops on the square offer a great way to wind down after visiting the trail.
We at PATH have mixed feelings about completing the GreenBelt. It is gratifying to complete such an incredible amenity but it is painful to realize our team will disband. Our association with this incredible group will always be a cherished memory.