Over the last few weeks, we have read with great interest the information that has been shared with citizens regarding the potential sale of the Pickens Doodle Rail line in hopes of converting it into a walking / biking trail.
The Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce recently surveyed our membership and found that an overwhelming 90 percent of our membership supports city and county leaders working together to purchase the property for the sole purpose of developing a hiking/biking trail.
One only has to look as far as the neighboring county of Greenville to see the impact a trail such as this has on a community. The Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville was designed to promote active living and multi-modal transportation options. An added bonus to this is that the Travelers Rest and Greenville areas are reaping much more than an enhanced quality of life, they are also seeing a huge economic impact as a direct result of the trail. Many findings suggest that outdoor enthusiasts are willing to invest big bucks in travel and equipment to bolster their love of the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking or biking, the Easley Chamber feels that a trail would serve not only to greatly impact the quality of life in Pickens County, it would also serve as a huge economic impact to the area.
Recent findings from a study conducted by Furman University on the first year of the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville show that the economic impact to the areas of Traveler’s Rest and Greenville in general has been very positive:
• Over 359,000 users visited the trail between July 2010 and July 2011
• Most business owners reported 30%-85% increases in sales, with some reporting as high as 160% increases
• Several businesses have decided to re-locate closer to the trail to increase sales
The Ecusta trail is proposed to run from Hendersonville to Brevard spanning the counties of Henderson and Transylvania. A recent in-depth study for this proposed trail found the following:
• 180 jobs will be created with the construction of the trail ($20 million impact to the local area)
• $22 million in property value increases, up to $160,000 per year in property tax revenues generated
• Over 20,000 new visitors as a result of the trail, which will inject about $2 million into the local economy, and create 27 new jobs
• 1,600 new exercisers, which can be calculated to about $5 million per year in health care cost reductions
It is the position of the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce that our community leaders (Pickens County, City of Easley, and City of Pickens) should work together for the purchase of the Doodle Line. We further ask they work alongside private support to establish the rail line as a trail that could be used to enhance the quality of life in Pickens County, as well as serve as a foundation for economic development and the promotion of tourism within Pickens County. With our abundance of lakes, mountains, and tourism opportunities, this would only go to enhance our quality of life, and the possibility of increasing tourism for the local area.
Board of Directors and Members of the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce