Trail Alliance gets green light from GCC

By Peggy Mackenzie

The Greenbrier County Commission agreed to sign a letter of support for the New River Gorge Trail Alliance (NRGTA) to form an authority that will govern non-motorized trail systems in an expanded multi-county region. At the Nov. 26 meeting, NRGTA President Bill Wells stated the nonprofit 501(3)c organization, dedicated to recreational hiking and biking, will soon be renamed as the Mountain State Trail Alliance. He named three new board members to represent Greenbrier County: Carolyn Comar, Matt Ford and Andy Pendleton.

The NRGTA is currently comprised of Fayette, Nicholas and Greenbrier Counties and will soon expand to include up to five more counties, including Raleigh and Kanawha. So far, the alliance has received $2 million in grants for trail system construction. Wells said additional encouragement came from the West Virginia Legislature’s recent passage of SB-317 authorizing groups composed of at least three contiguous counties to form trail authorities for systems that do not permit motorized vehicles. The Senate bill opens up state funding opportunities and provides enforcement powers over such crucial components as trail access, a system wide maintenance program to be implemented, as well as provides landowner liability protection. “We’d like to have a trail system that people can ride for a week,” Wells said.

Wells said, the NRGTA is applying for an additional grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to fund work by a steering committee to form a trail authority in the first year and in its second year to provide full or partial funding for that authority’s inaugural year of operation. The budget for those two years is set at $324,000. The letter of support from the GCC will show ARC that locals have enthusiasm for the project.

Greenbrier County can decide whether to contribute to the ongoing support of the trail authority at a later point in the process. The letter of support Wells was initially asking for does not require a funding commitment at this time. He assured the commission that Greenbrier County will benefit with several trail construction and completions, including the Meadow River Trail and the extension of the Greenbrier River Trail to Hinton with connections to White Sulphur Springs and Lewisburg.

In other business: Mayor Beverly White was appointed to serve on the county board of health.

At the close of the meeting, property owner Jodi Styles offered a comment for the commission’s consideration. Styles said she resides on property downhill from the Greenbrier Sports Complex site, from which, she states, water runoff from the tree-cleared site has been flowing onto her property for several weeks, overtaking a pond and dumping silted, muddy water into it. The DEP has been informed and was involved she said, however, the barriers that were set up to control and curb the runoff water have repeatedly failed. Styles made her request to the commission to address the situation. The commission thanked her for her comments without an official commitment or comment during the meeting since the item was not on the agenda.