A Call To Action For Local Government


Adam Salman and friend ride the golf cart path at the now closed Glen Cannon Golf Course. The path has become a safe haven for cyclists young and old who choose not to ride on the road. (Courtesy photo)

Our community is a mountain bike destination. Have you seen all the bikes flocking to Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Recreational Forest lately? Brevard is on every list and in every article written about terrific trails. Pisgah is known best for it's rugged, technical terrain. Its trails challenge even the toughest, highly skilled riders. DuPont State Recreational Forest, though more intermediate friendly, is still mountainous. Pedaling a bike up a steep hill is no easy feat and not everyone that visits our area with a bicycle is in terrific shape.

I believe it's time for our county and city to put more emphasis on turning the Ecusta Trail into a reality. According to their website; "the Ecusta Trail is a proposed rail trail (yet to be established) between the cities of Hendersonville and Brevard, North Carolina. It is envisioned as a multi-use hike and bike 19-mile greenway along the railway corridor between the two cities. Once complete, it will connect with the Brevard Bike Path, the Estatoe bike path leading into Pisgah Forest and the Ochlawaha bike path connecting Jackson Park, Patton Park and Berkeley Park in Hendersonville."

Every week in our shop, I talk to families with children, retirees, and recreational riders looking for this type of activity. Families with beach cruiser style bikes strapped to RVs want to ride our local trails that everyone is raving about. These people want to ride more gentle topography and be protected from more distracted motorists. 

  The Friends of Ecusta Trail share a study that opening the trail would generate 9.4 million dollars annually. The Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, S.C. is a major success. Shops, restaurants, and breweries are flourishing. The town of Traveler's Rest, an old textile corridor, has been completely revitalized by the influx of money the trail has drawn into their community. Okay, now money aside. Think of the health and lifestyle benefits. The trail would see seniors walking their dogs and mothers pushing strollers. You do not have to be on two wheels to enjoy the path. Retirees are trying to stay more active than ever.

  Our county is special. We have a wonderful college, a great hospital, a National Forest, National Park, State Park and State Forest. We want more people to realize everything we have to offer. We want them to spend their money here. We also want them to realize how desirable living in Brevard truly is. We want them to build homes here, open or move businesses here and hire employees here. That in turn means more people in our community to shop locally and eat locally. 

  Tourism is a huge spark to small industry. Dale Katechis opened Oskar Blues' second location in Brevard because he loved the area, especially the Biking. The Hub has spent the last eight years growing from one part-time employee to 15. Both businesses provide benefits to full-time staff. Longtime customers of ours are buying second homes and moving this way all the time.

  We need local government to actively push for the line to be rail-banked. The owners of the rail line, Watco, are holding out until they find a suitable industry(s) that will justify investment in revamping the line. They need rail customers in order to provide the business case for the multi-million dollar cost of repairing the aging line. The Brevard City Council has pledged their support of the trail, along with the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce and the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority, as well as the Town of Laurel Park, the Village of Flat Rock, the Henderson County Commissioners, Hendersonville City Council and the Henderson County Chamber and TDA.

  It seems our county desperately wants to hold on to the possibility of this aging rail line being needed again. Without it, the fear is that we might not draw manufacturing industry into the area.

The reality is that most industries do not require rail any longer, and definitely not the industries that would likely locate here.  Instead of moving forward with a plan to bring millions of tourist's dollars, tax benefits and health savings annually, we wait and think about the past fondly while a valuable economic and community asset continues to sit idle.

(Salman is co-owner of The Hub and Pisgah Tavern, where she employs 15 people who earn living wages.)


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