Trails to become reality

Published 7:23 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011

City officials will meet soon with an engineer to determine which streets could best handle a bike trail.

A group of volunteers has been working with the city and Alabama Department of Public Health to spend a grant that could help map out a bike trail in the city.

Atmore resident Susan Smith said the project is needed to help encourage physical activity and promote safe routes.

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“Safety is a big thing,” she said. “We think this is something Atmore needs.”

The Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County has received a grant through ADPH and its Alabama Strategic Alliance for Health, which is helping rural areas develop programs to promote healthy activities.

“The funding comes to the health department through the Centers for Disease Control, through a program to help communities become healthier places for their citizens,” said Heidi Hathaway, project manager for the Alabama Strategic Alliance for Health.

But time is of the essence, because the grant money must be spent by the end of the program’s fiscal year, which hits Sept. 30.

The grant would cover signage and bike racks, estimated at $1,000, Smith said.

Smith said she and Public Safety Director Glen Carlee have driven the city streets to determine what might be the safest routes.

Mayor Howard Shell said he expects to meet next week with engineer Paul Darnell to talk about which streets could handle a bike trail.

“He knows our streets better than anyone,” Shell said. “He knows the dimensions of the streets. What we’ve got to do is have something the engineers will sign off on. The engineer will be driving the facts. We will be a lot further along if we start with him.”

Smith said she appreciated the mayor and council’s support of the project.

Smith also asked council members if they had given any more consideration to making the city’s two parks smoke-free.

Shell said the city is willing to pass an ordinance but needs to have one drawn up correctly.

Hathaway said the ADPH would provide signage in the parks if the city passes a smoke-free ordinance.