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Trails normally improve area values
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Editor: I’d like to address the concerns in a recent letter regarding plans to build a trail on the abandoned CSX railbed.
Having been involved in many similar projects around Georgia over the last 18 years, I respect the concerns and understand why the proposal could spark controversy.
There are currently more than 1,500 rail-trails open to the public nationally comprising almost 16,000 miles of trail. Almost without exception, the same issues were raised as each one was proposed. Almost without exception, the trails became a welcome addition to their respective regions after they were built.
It is the perception by some that a coastal Georgia trail would somehow reduce property values, diminish the local economy, increase criminal activity and disrupt existing uses along the corridor, such as hunting. The facts, however, show that similar trails throughout the country increase property values, promote economic activity, reduce crime and co-exist with most uses — including hunting.
When we built the Silver Comet Trail through rural West Georgia, many of the concerns voiced in the recent letter were expressed by residents near the trail. Today, the Silver Comet is considered a boon to the area, creating new businesses and jobs, and dramatically increasing the value of the land nearby, all with a very low crime rate for the number of visitors the trail attracts annually. The small amount of crime tracks a study by the Rails to Trails Conservancy that found that crime rates on rural rail-trails nationwide were extremely low — much lower, in fact, than in areas away from the trails.
I invite the neighbors of the CSX coastal rail corridor to investigate what really happens when an abandoned railroad is converted to a walking and biking trail, rather than speculating and assuming the worst. We will do everything to make certain the Georgia Coast Rail-Trail is as neighbor-friendly as possible.  And we look forward to constructive input from the community as an essential part of the process.

Ed McBrayer
Board Member, Coastal Georgia Rails to Trails
Executive Director, PATH Foundation,
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