Five Tennessee River communities have been named Pilot Communities in the development of the Tennessee RiverLine, a vision for North America’s next great regional trail system.
The five Pilot Communities are Roane County, TN; Bridgeport, AL; The Shoals, AL (Florence-Muscle Shoals MSA); Benton County, TN; and Paducah-McCraken County, KY. They were selected by the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership from a pool of 17 communities that responded to a call for applications in spring 2019.
“We are thrilled to have an opportunity to work with these five communities that represent all communities along the Tennessee River,” said Brad Collett, Director of the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Collaborating with each will help us gain valuable feedback for the Tennessee RiverLine vision from the perspective of communities of different sizes, types, locations, resources, capacities and existing levels of investment in public access to the Tennessee River.”
As part of the Pilot Community Program, community residents and leadership will have an opportunity to come together as participants in the vision development process through community workshops and events, facilitated by the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership, in summer 2019. Through these activities, attendees will share insights and their own ideas that will be used to further shape the vision for the Tennessee RiverLine in each community and across the region.
Pilot Community members unable to attend in these activities, as well as residents across the river valley outside of Pilot Communities, will be able to share their feedback through an interactive online survey tool called River Gauge that will be launched in summer 2019. This input will also inform future RiverLine planning.
“At this early phase, the broadly distributed interest in the Tennessee RiverLine is a strong indicator of the future success of this bold vision,” said Collett. “This interest also demonstrates a shared recognition of the value of our natural resource and is testimony to the potential local and regional impact of the Tennessee RiverLine.”
Every community along the river ultimately will benefit from the Pilot Community Program by way of a strengthened vision and a focused direction for the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership. Analysis from this program will be shared with all communities beginning in fall 2019.
“Working with the five Pilot Communities is a critical early step that will lay a foundation for the long-term effort and engagement needed from all Tennessee River communities to realize this vision that will affect the lives of millions for generations to come,” said Collett.