The Baileys Trail System needs your help. Athens City Council members need to hear from you prior or at to the council meeting this Monday, Nov 4th.
The Athens City Council is currently in the process of reviewing the proposal for the city to help fund the Baileys Trail Project. The ordinance is up for final reading and a vote on Monday, November 4, 2019, and is first on the agenda at 7:00 PM. If the ordinance is tabled or fails to pass on Monday, then this will delay the project, and threaten funding that is being lined up from the county, investors, and grant sources that is dependent on the city’s relatively small contribution to the project. Note that the city is proposing spending hotel taxes (transient guest tax), not property or other taxes toward the project.
Here are 2 courses of action to voice your support for the Baileys Trail Project at this important juncture:
1) Send an email to City Council telling them that you support the project and that the city should fund the project as proposed. Send the email to the Clerk of Council Debbie Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org) and cc Mayor Steve Patterson (email@example.com). In your email, ask Clerk Walker to distribute your message to all council members. Alternatively, if you prefer, you may send the message to individual council members. Here is the link to Athens City Council web page with the list of members and their email addresses. Also, see the example email template below.
You don’t need to be a city resident to contact city council in support of the proposed funding ordinance, but be sure to tell council members where you live, and that when you visit the Baileys Trails that you will spend money in the City of Athens. It might help to mention the local businesses that you like to visit.
2) Attend the City Council meeting on Monday at 7:00 PM, and be prepared to briefly speak in support of the project. It is first on the agenda, so you can show up and leave as soon as the item is completed, no need to stay for the entire council meeting.
Thanks. Your participation and support is very important right now in order to ensure passage of the funding ordinance.
Here is an example email template. Copy and paste, and edit to customize the message as you see fit.
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Clerk Debbie Walker,
Please forward the following message to all Athens City Council members prior to the Monday Council Meeting on Nov 4, 2019.
Athens City Council,
I am writing to you in support of the Baileys Trail System in the Athens Unit of the Wayne National Forest. I’m hoping that you will support passage of the proposed ordinance 0-110-19, which will provide funding from the City of Athens to directly support the Baileys project.
The Baileys Trail has the potential to provide a sizeable economic boost through increased visitation and tourism to the region. The City of Athens already has the businesses and amenities to draw the Baileys visitors once they get in Athens County, and thus the city is likely to benefit the most economically from the completed Baileys Trail System.
If the City fails to provide direct financial support to the project, then that will jeopardize other funding for the project that are dependent on the city’s contribution, potentially including Athens County’s contribution, millions of dollars of investment funding, and State and Federal grants. If the city does not act, the project implementation will drag out development of the trails for at least an additional 4-8 years, delaying the much needed economic benefits for the area.
The Baileys Trail System is an opportunity that Athens cannot afford to miss out on. Coal mining and other extractive industries have provided a boom and bust economy throughout the history of the area. From an environmental and economic perspective, the Baileys Project is exactly what Athens needs and what we must invest in if we want to find sustainable economic alternatives for the city and the region.
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For Reference: Ordinance 0-110-19 for Third Reading:
AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM THE CITY’S TRANSIENT GUEST TAX TO THE OUTDOOR RECREATION COUNCIL OF APPALACHIA (ORCA) FOR FUNDING THE BAILEY’S TRAIL SYSTEM ALONG WITH OTHER RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES. Introduced by Council Member Risner