Deciding the best use for the abandoned ETry tracks

  The growing popularity of outdoor recreation activities, such as cycling, inline skating, walking and running, combined with the loss of community open space, has increased the need for quality recreational facilities such as rail-trails.
  A couple of STAR readers have suggested that the East Tennessee Railway right-of-way from Elizabethton to Johnson City be converted to a multi-use trail, similar to the Virginia Creeper Trail in Washington County, Va. The Creeper Trail draws hundreds of out-of-towners to the Abingdon and Damascus area each year. The trail is used primarily by bike riders, but has become one of the popular bike trails in the Southeast.
  Rail-trails provide places for cyclists, hikers, walkers, runners, inline skaters, cross-country skiers and physically challenged individuals to exercise and experience the many natural and cultural wonders of the nation's urban, suburban and rural environments. Rail-trails not only serve as independent community amenities, they also enhance existing recreational resources by linking neighborhoods and schools to parks, waterfronts, recreational centers and other facilities.
  There is no doubt about the strong link between exercise and good health. By providing a place for so many types of recreational use, rail-trails can greatly help to improve public health.
  Converting the railway to a trail is just one of several possibilities that should be considered by the city and county. However, the top priority now should be purchasing the right-of-way, and then the county and city can decide the best uses for the abandoned tracks.