The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted July 2 to proceed with the greenway project, extending the trail from Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center toward the Great Stage Park, home to Bonnaroo, provided that some of the funds for the construction come from a partnership.
In 2018, Parks and Recreation Director Bonnie Gamble received nearly $1 million in grant funds from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, with the grant requiring a $300,000 match from the city. The original project would connect the Little Duck River Greenway at Riverview Alternative School and extend it toward Great Stage Park. It would be accomplished in three phases: Riverview School (completed), extend it to Emerson Street during the second phase, and then the final phase would connect it to the conference center.
But some property owners were not in favor of the greenway going through their land for the second phase of the extension. Therefore Gamble came up with the idea to build the final phase next and then connect the final phase to the Little Duck River Greenway in the future.
Several of those property owners expressed concerns at the July 2 meeting about how the project was handled.
“I don’t know who Bonnie Gamble is, but that’s not the way to treat people,” said one of the residents at the meeting. “You just don’t get on people’s land. Not only did (Gamble) do this once but she called me again on March 25 and told me they were going to do this… She called me back again April 2 and asked me about getting on my property again. I told her ‘no’…I come home two days later, and they had rerouted another route on my property. You just don’t do that.”
Aldermen apologized to the residents, noting that the second phase of the project is off the table at this time.
The discussion at the meeting centered around whether or not to complete the first and third phase of the greenway, leaving a gap in the middle, or to completely drop the project.
“The current proposal has a trailhead that will start behind the conference center... and it will cut all the way through Bonnaroo and end up on Bushy Branch Road, with a secondary trailhead there,” said Alderman Ryan French.
This part of the greenway will not connect to the part completed in phase one.
Alderman Marilyn Howard made a motion to “knock (the project) on the head.”
“What I propose tonight is that we don’t go from the conference center to Bonnaroo because we have a big gap there that does not connect,” Howard said. “There is a $300,000 match. I believe this $300,000 can be used to put lights for the existing greenways.”
Some of the aldermen noted the city could partner with a third party for part of the funds.
The original motion was amended to state that the city would complete the project provided that some of the funds come from a partnership.
The motion was approved, with four favorable and three unfavorable votes.
Aldermen Howard, Bob Bellamy and Mark Messick cast a “no” vote. Aldermen French, Bill Nickels, Chris Elam, and mayor Lonnie Norman voted to approve the motion.