Mt. Juliet biker pursues passive park/greenway dream
An avid biker, Sally Robertson pedals 6,400 miles a year.
She's covered every inch of Mt. Juliet's bike lanes and people remember her son riding along beside her when he was in grammar school. He's now in the military. Always a proponent for alternative means of transportation, Robertson took the time last year to write out an application for a grant to restore a small piece of property near the Mt. Juliet Church of Christ.
"I'd like to turn it into a mini-park/connector greenway with training stations, and most importantly, build a link to our existing greenways," she said.
In January of 2012, the Metro Planning Organization and the Active Transportation Program approved the grant that is $21,600 which includes a match from the City of Mt. Juliet for a total of just over $25,000.
"From my understanding, if they don't get started with the project by February 2013 the city could use lose the money," said Robertson.
The hang-up is that part of the approval for the grant is contribution from an engineer toward drawing out the project plans.
"I've been told that would cost most of the grant money," said Robertson.
The goal is the the city's public works director Marlin Keel provide the engineering services, since that was he previous occupation.
Keel has dealt with many irons in the fire, most recently with the loss of several employees. He said he's aware of the project.
"This project has to be treated like any other project funded with a bid from a contractor and engineering work, we need to justify that city forces can take care of it," he said. "This somewhat changed the scope of the project."
Keel said he planned to get with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to "follow up and pursue this project."
"It is my responsibility we don't lose that money," he said.
Robertson said the park will provide a connection for the citizens of Mt. Juliet to safely and actively get to destinations, such as the Music City Star Transit Station in Mt. Juliet.
"Mt. Juliet is the second busiest stop along the route from Lebanon to Nashville," she said. "About 300 people get on the train in Mt. Juliet every morning, Monday through Friday."
Robertson's grant application described her vision for the space that was created when Old Lebanon Dirt Road was turned into a dead end.
There will be eight fitness stations to help people "in Mt. Juliet maintain a healthy lifestyle," she said.
There will be benches for people to sit and rest and watch the Little League baseball games that are played on the field adjacent to this land.
"The purpose of this project will not only be for active transportation, but also to beautify the roadbed," said Robertson.
There's a 90 year old bridge in the space, which the grant money will help rejuvenate. It was designed and built in 1920 by the Luten Bridge Company.
"The bridge will be turned into a native wildflower garden," said Robertson.
She said she will recruit area scouts to help with some of the labor on the project.
City Manager Kenneth Martin supports the project. He's also working on securing another possible passive park site near there that would be about 12 acres.
"I think it's awesome the work Sally has put into the grant application process," he said.
Mayor Ed Hagerty revealed a vision he had for a passive area with an amphitheater, water fountains and more on the RTA land at the corner of North Mt. Juliet Road and Division Street. This project would cost about $500,000, with a 50/50 city and private match.
"I love Mayor Hagerty's idea about the downtown district," said Robertson. "But how about finishing the two projects that Mt. Juliet already has funding for, Phase 2 of the Town Center Greenway and this passive park we've outlined."
Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 46 or by email at email@example.com