Saturday, January 10, 2015

I Support the North Berkeley Rail Trail

Do you?  Because if you happen to find the benefits of a community walking/running trail for Morgan County, we need to let our commissioners know before small town politics reject a well conceived concept for the health, wellness, and safety of our citizens of ALL ages.  In order to "Save the North Berkeley Rail Trail" please contact all our county commissioners and, if possible, attend their next meeting on January 22nd, at 9:30 a.m. (Contact info to follow so keep reading.)

Excuse me?  Can I tell you why the news that Ford wants to pull the plug on North Berkeley Rail Trail was so upsetting to this soon-to-be-50-grey-haired-hott-mama-of-four?  I read the article from the Morgan Messenger as it was released late Thursday afternoon.  We were on our way to Ruby Tuesdays to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of our first blind date.  Back to school after a snow break, our 14 year old freshman cross country runner is chatting away in the car about her trip to the Morgan County Courthouse with the team.  Imagine my surprise as I realized she was present at the very meeting reported in the paper.

I found it alarming that our BSHS Cross Country team state CHAMPIONS had to witnesss the discussion to possibly reject a running/walking trail by our county commissioners.  From a town that harbors a winning running program recognized state wide and no adults in the room realize or notices that the county commissioners are discussing cutting a trail project that could benefit the very future voters present in the room.  As a parent of a runner, I found this to be in poor taste, setting a terrible example for our children; not to mention belittling the very effort and hard work these students exhibit by their dedication to a sport which provides them beneficial life-long learning.

Later, I read on facebook:  "As someone mentioned in a whisper at this meeting: 'why don't they just say they want to kill it because it was Stacy's project. At least we'd respect them.'" Well, our children heard what happened because as they left the meeting, a teenager whispered, "I kinda wish we had a trail like that to run on."

So do I!  This parent of a runner, and with a large family that frequently runs and bikes together, I also wish they had a safe trail off the busy curvy roads to run and for practice.  It sounds to me like it would honor a team of Champions and provide a valuable resource for our community and not just our tourists, making an asset for people already living here; and a reason for people to stay.

Trails are provided for communities all over the country!  I was so surprised to read that the commissioners felt this was "ill conceived from the start."  According to the article, "'it's my belief that it was an ill-conceived project from the word go,' said Ford. 'I've asked what the purpose is of the project and I've never got a clear answer.'"

Purpose of a walking/running trail?  Seriously?   Commissioner Ford had plenty of runners in the room that could have helped him figure out the "purpose of the project."  As a resident of Morgan County, I find it offensive not only that this was part of the meeting while the team was present but that it was chided about tourists utilizing the trail. What about families?  What about seniors?  Where has Ford been?  Ask anyone around town where the teams run.  They are everywhere during training AND after: out New Hope Road, on Hospital Hill, along Route 13.  Hard not to miss them.  What is the purpose of the trail?  Well, for walking and running!  Communities all over the country build trails to promote healthy living.  Kinda fits our little spa town, doesn't it?

In fact, my own family often drives over to Hancock to bike or run the rail trail.  It is always an adventure and the kids love it!  We always tie in the 30 minute drive there with a treat which normally includes picking up a pie at Blue Goose, lunch at Weavers, the Farmer's Market on Thursdays, or just a trip to Pittmans (for Levi's Lender's onion bagels which aren't available in Food Lion).  Hmmmm... sounds like plenty of good reasons for a trail in Morgan County.

And you know what?  Not all of Hancock's trail is scenic.  In fact, who wants to walk parallel along noisy Interstate 70?  And, why would a North Berkeley Rail Trail be called a "trail to no where"?  It seems like the Senior Center and Towne of Bath are both pretty cool destinations, right?

I was told in defense of the meeting, that the girls were later than expected because of the school delay; hence they witnessed the trail debate.  Sorry, but this mom feels that is no excuse for adults to allow this debacle in front of children.  Did no one recognize the complete irony of it all?  It so sets a poor example of our local government when it could have been tabled until after the team was honored.  Now what must they be thinking?  Work hard and achieve a success only to come home and hear an elected official question the purpose of a community trail.

I will apologize for my rant here and, honestly, I mean no disrespect.  Forgive me for expecting more from the adults we have elected to govern our county we call home.  Quite frankly, this voter feels that our commissioners owe these children and their coaches an apology for overlooking the craziness of debunking a rail trail with them present.  The behavior of adults, especially elected officials, are watched under a microscope.  Come on.  These kids were invited to be recongized for achievement of being Number One in West Virginia - for running!  Why can't we have a safe place for them to train and continue to produce champion athletes?

Why can't we provide seniors with a trail for exercise?  Why can't we provide families with healthy alternatives locally?  Why can't we respect each other more at a public meeting?

So, please support the North Berkeley Rail Trail.  Come to the Jan. 22nd meeting.  Tell ALL our county commissioners to continue this very well conceived concept for our community and figure out the funding and most reasonable engineering to make this happen. Here is their contact information.

Morgan County Commission Office:  304-258-8540
Commissioner Bradley J. Close, President, email
Commissioner Robert L. Ford, email
Commissioner Joel R. Tutte, email

"Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you." 
Genesis 13:17

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