FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Fayette County officials and trail enthusiasts came to the table once again to talk trail development but this time at picnic tables as they took their meeting to the Fayette County Park for social distancing.
Throughout trail discussions in the county, it has been a back and forth about whether or not single-track, soft surface trails like the new Wolf Creek Trails in Fayetteville should be the priority in a comprehensive plan or the rail trails.
The big takeaway from the workshop for some was that both kinds of trail development can coexist without competing.
Andrew Forron, owner of New River Bikes, says that maybe from here, coalitions will form for each type of trail but can work together for an overall plan.
“Everybody has their unique interests, and now it seems like we’re shifting to working on our focuses, so for me, it’s mainly soft surface trails though I do appreciate the connectivity because I ride a bike everywhere but focusing on our strong points and then working together to create a master trail plan and get things really rolling,” he said.
Commissioner Tom Louisos has been a strong advocate for focusing on rail trails saying it is more suitable for older people and families.
Those advocating for focus on soft surface say it will bring in more outdoor recreation opportunities for both locals and tourists. They used Wolf Creek Trails as an example as they have not been completely finished yet and are already drawing lots of visitors.
However, Louisos says that after the discussion at the park, he is feeling encouraged about the room to develop both types and connect and that the county supports both.
“I feel a lot better. I mean, the conversation I had with Danny and the information he put out and willing to let the commission – I feel good about it. I mean, I do, better than I have been in the past,” Louisos said.
Those at the meeting saw different maps and heard different ideas from those with organizations like Active Southern West Virginia, the Mountain State Trail Alliance, the National Park Service and West Virginia University.
Despite the different voices, the general consensus is that there is momentum and excitement for trails.
Now it is just about using that to build a comprehensive plan which they all hope to do in the near future that may include further development of the Fayette County Park and Needleseye in the Oak Hill area.
The River Cities rail trail in the Upper Kanawha Valley is also in the development stages.
“It’s probably the only way that we’ll ever get anything done is that we all work together,” Forron said. “While we all have our differences, we all are kind of going for the same thing.”
The group plans to meet again on September 4 in the park.