August 22, 2013

Mount Rachel trail the result of several groups working together

The Daily Citizen

— Mount Rachel has long been one of Dalton’s hidden gems. Just north of downtown, Mount Rachel has some great views of the city. But only those fit enough and hearty enough to climb through trees and brush could enjoy them for many years.

They’ve become much more accessible, thanks to a 1.6-mile walking and biking trail that officially opened on Wednesday. Local fitness enthusiasts and nature lovers will now be able to slip away from work at lunch time and get a little exercise. And city officials hope the trail becomes an attraction that will bring in people from outside Dalton and even outside Whitfield County, people who will also spend some of their money in local stores and restaurants.

The trail is just one part of an effort to make Dalton more “green” and more attractive to young professionals and those starting families. That effort also includes projects such as the new multipurpose field that is being installed at Lakeshore Park. That field will become the home field for Dalton State College’s soccer program if it is approved by the Board of Regents.

And the Mount Rachel trail is also just one part of the city’s efforts to revitalize the Crown Mill area. That effort began a few years ago when the city used some of its community development block grant money to restore and repair the Hamilton House, Dalton’s oldest brick house, which had a dangerously sagging wall. It will continue with a planned “greenway” that will link Selvidge Street with Chattanooga Avenue.

City officials used $350,000 in state and federal grants to build the Mount Rachel trail, and the trail stands as a testament to what can happen when several entities and individuals work together. The Dalton Parks and Recreation Department spearheaded the project and will maintain the trail, but it had support from the City Council and the public works department and from Dalton Utilities, which allowed its property to be used.

The private sector kicked in as well, with Shaw Industries donating 24 acres and local firms such as Cope Brothers Construction and Kirkman Associates architects performing the work under contract.

Dalton officials deserve credit for their vision, and Dalton residents should hope that the Mount Rachel trail is as successful as the officials project it will be.