Editor’s Note: After several years of innovative, diligent work and a degree of success few would have imagined possible, the Tweetsie Trail Task Force has declared its mission accomplished. The News & Neighbor has appreciated the opportunity to highlight the Task Force’s work – and that of its many partners – throughout the past several years. Below is the text of a letter from Task Force Chairman Dr. Dan Schumaier announcing the group’s dissolution and reflecting on its successes and their roots in a broader community involvement.
After having overseen the construction, opening and first 1-1/2 years of operation of the Tweetsie Trail, the time has come to dissolve the Tweetsie Trail Task Force.
First of all, we, the members, would like to express our appreciation to the cities of Johnson City and Elizabethton for the opportunity you gave us to serve on the Task Force. It has been an honor and a wonderful experience, especially in light of the extraordinary success of the Trail. We had no doubt that it would succeed, but none of us, not even its most ardent advocates, anticipated the enthusiastic acceptance and heavy usage of the Trail by both communities.
We are especially gratified that the Trail was built exclusively with local money and in-kind gifts, without state or federal grants. This fact has been greeted with astonishment by the rail/trail community and received statewide and national attention.
We have set a new, higher standard by proving that it can be done this way, and done much more quickly, at much lower cost, without cutting corners, and with the very highest quality. This is an accomplishment of which we are justifiably proud.
The acknowledgements and credits are too numerous to mention. Private citizens, elected officials, generous donors, and hard-working city staffs have all played their parts, and rather than risk leaving out anyone, let us simply say that everyone’s contributions have been greatly appreciated. The Tweetsie Trail itself is your monument.
Although there are several projects still to be completed, this is the appropriate time to conclude our activities. With the establishment of the Tweetsie Trail Conservancy, a 50l(c)3 charitable foundation that will provide continuing advocacy and fund raising for the Trail, we are confident that we have accomplished all we can do, with this report being, we hope, a final contribution toward its continued success. We wish to remind the communities of the tasks that remain to be completed, propose a set of enhancements, and respectfully express a few concerns about the future of the Trail.
Again, we thank you for the opportunity we have had to serve and look forward to enjoying our own Tweetsie Trail for many decades to come.
(See an appendix to Schumaier’s letter with specific trail information and observations at jcnewsandneighbor.com/tweetsieletter.)