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THE MOST positive, upbeat letters to the editor that we've received during the last couple of months have revolved around one issue: recently opened trails in Fredericksburg and Stafford County. Now it's Spotsylvania County's turn to invest in something people love.
On Tuesday, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take a look at the county's relationship with the Spotsylvania Greenways Initiative, the citizens group supporting trail development in the county. It seems that some on the Planning Commission have raised questions about the county's trail plan, specifically about the potential for crime on the trails and the cost of building them.
It's not unreasonable to review policies once in a while, but it would be unwise for Spotsylvania to abandon the trail plan it adopted just two years ago. As we've seen recently, trails are enormously popular. They provide safe outdoor-recreation spaces, they can boost tourism, and they may, in at least some cases, provide alternative means of commuting.
SGI is a nonprofit organization that is working with the county to achieve the goal of providing community connections through 100 miles of walking and biking trails. By linking homes, businesses, shops, historic sites, and park areas with trails, SGI hopes to improve recreational opportunities and "inspire respect and responsibility for green spaces."
The county itself has identified potential trail areas, designated as "greenways." SGI brings together interested citizens, potential trail builders (such as Boy Scouts), and donors (including businesses) to achieve the goals the county has established. Right now, SGI is working on five areas, including the Ni River Trail, two segments of which recently opened to widespread applause.
It's true that building trails brings with it problems. Building anything does. There's cost involved and always the possibility that whatever is built will be targeted by criminals. (Burglars break into homes, too, but no one suggests we should all live under rock cliffs.) However, there's also the potential to enhance life and that's the joy of trails. From giving families a place to enjoy a safe outing to giving commuters a non-auto option for getting to work, trails deliver.
How do we know? Our readers tell us so:
"The new Heritage Trail is a wonderful and a much-needed addition to the city of Fredericksburg!" writes one resident. "In this season of thanks and gift-giving, I'd like to thank the city for planning the project and bringing it to fruition, the workers who did a fine job building it, and city taxpayers for financing it."
A runner applauds the investment "in a wonderful trail system that meanders through beautiful parts of town. The Rappahannock River is on full display and it smiles sweetly on the new trail. My run was truly wonderful, and I have everyone to thank for continually paving the way to a more runner-friendly community."
Finally, a doctor writes: "I encourage residents to take advantage of this latest addition to our city. It should give you another reason to feel good about your decision to live here. It's a no-cost, convenient, low-impact way to get some exercise. Use it on a regular basis and you'll feel better physically, feel connected to your community, and have deeper appreciation for your environment."
When it comes to trails, Spotsylvania should stay the course--retain its partnership with SGI and move forward with this life-improving regional plan.