Florence officials are attempting to create relationships with the community over bike trail proposal

WAFF 48s Aria Pons Reporting
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:54 PM CDT
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FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - Leaders in Florence are in the early stages of creating a new walking and biking trail system that would connect several neighborhoods with Wildwood Park.

However, some neighbors worry the trail system will create new headaches for homeowners.

“It’s right in my backyard,” Lorine Mitchell said while pointing at the thirty feet between her window and the proposed trail.

She said her biggest concern is the lack of communication from the group planning the trails. That group is made up of leaders from Shoals MTB, Muscle Shoals National Heritage and the city of Florence. Mitchell said she only found out about the proposed trails when she saw a surveyor marking where a trail could go.

“The community should’ve known about it before they did a study,” Mitchell said. “So I just think we should’ve been better informed before it got to that point.”

Eero Wilson from Shoals MTB said there was a public meeting held about the trails, but he said he hears the community’s concerns and wants to hear more. He will be starting a community outreach initiative before any construction starts.

“That creates obviously the recreation connection but also the community building aspect of now we’re engaging with other parts of our community that we might not have visited and making new relationships with our neighbors that we never saw possible,” Wilson said.

He said these trails could be a connective force in Florence but he wants the community to want it as much as he does.

“What we’re promoting is really an opportunity for the community to engage and be a part of the planning process,” Wilson said.

Council woman Kaytrina Simmons, who represents this neighborhood, said she has heard multiple complaints.

“I’m basically going to stand with what the community wants,” Simmons explained. “I wanted them to weigh in because I thought it was necessary for them to weigh in. If they support the trails then I support the trails but if they don’t want the trails right in their doorstep, right behind their homes or right behind the cemetery where their loved ones are buried then I understand that. I respect that.”

The community outreach meetings will take place well before officials can start gathering funds to start the trail. Wilson said the trail is still in the conceptual stages.

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