TIFTON — Tift Area Greenway Association is a group of Tifton residents organized to improve the quality of life through the creation and use of safe pedestrian and bicycle networks and greenways in Tift County and beyond.
TAGA was formed in 2011 by a collection of community advocates looking for a safe place to exercise, association members said in a statement. It has since expanded to advocate for safe routes for children going to school, families exercising together and the overall quality of life and economic vitality of the community.
“Regular exercise is becoming more and more a part of many of our lives and exercising outdoors is relatively safe during the coronavirus pandemic”, said Patricia Timper, president of TAGA. “We also have a lot of young families and retired folks who are moving to Tift County and looking for inexpensive outdoor activities to enjoy alone or in a group.”
TAGA is planning two trails. One trail will connect Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to the Tift County Public Library with spurs to Len Lastinger Elementary School and Eighth Street Middle School. The plan is for this trail to utilize wider streets that will allow room for car traffic as well as a two-lane pedestrian/bike path, members said.
The other trail will be more of a greenway and run along the abandoned CSX rail bed connecting the YMCA on Carpenter Road with the Interstate 75 overpass.
The second trail is already well shaded and will allow access to many of the restaurants and hotels on Highway 82, members said.
TAGA members said they believe the second trail will attract visitors to stop for the night in Tifton because the greenway will be a good place for travelers to stretch their legs and walk the dog after a long drive.
Timper said once the two trails are established the association hopes to join them together as well as expand them.
Timper added multipurpose trails, such as the ones TAGA promotes, benefit businesses looking to attract and retain employees and they can increase the customer base for many establishments along the trail route.
Timper said a 2013 study on the economic impact of the Silver Comet Trail, located west of Atlanta, found that for every dollar spent to establish the trail, the trail created at least three dollars from tourism, recreation-related purchases, restaurants and lodging.
The trails have been shown to increase the value of real estate by 4-7% within a quarter mile of the trail, members said.
The 7.2-mile greenway in Moultrie is the single most used recreation area in the city.
“In other cities, I have seen real estate advertisements that mention the proximity of the property to the local trail,” Timper said. “This is actually a selling point.”