GAINESVILLE-HALL COUNTY (July 6, 2022) – A new video highlighting the Highlands to Islands Trail has been released, touting the trail system’s existing network of trails and the impact the trail system has on the community as a whole.
The video, which can be viewed here, is a collaboration between the cities of Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Oakwood, as well as the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Vision 2030 and Hall County Government. Its purpose is to help promote use of and support for the trail.
Various community stakeholders appear in the video, talking about the value the trail system has in the community.
“It’s an opportunity for people to connect with their families,” says Angela Sheppard, assistant city manager for the City of Gainesville. “We go out on the trail together, we walk, my kids play on the playground… it gives people an opportunity to connect to restaurants, retail, entertainment and other communities.”
Hall County Human Resources Director Dr. LisaRae Jones describes the connection the trail offers between the various jurisdictions within Hall County.
“Connecting communities that are different is the value,” she says. “You may have resources in one community that you may not be able to find in another… this trail will allow you to have access to all types of opportunities.”
Rich Atkinson with the City of Flowery Branch agrees.
“Having these trails would just be invaluable for us to bring everyone together,” he says.
The Highlands to Islands Trail will eventually cover Hall County with more than 30 miles of trails and greenways stretching from downtown Gainesville to South Hall and the shores of Lake Lanier. Several portions of the trail have been constructed while several others are currently in development, including a portion known as the “Airport Connector Trail,” which will connect the Midland Greenway to the Chicopee Trail. Funding for that portion of the trail was made possible thanks to a $785,000 corporate donation from Pilgrim’s Pride.
“There’s a lot of people coming to work in this area. As a company, we support the development of this trail, and we support this community,” says Miguel Diego Ruiz, a Pilgrim’s Pride employee appearing in the video. “We walk it basically every week.”
“Studies have shown that having a trail system in your community enhances property values, enhances quality of life, and as corporations are looking for where they want to grow or where they want to locate their headquarters, they’re looking at that type of thing for their employees,” says R.K. Whitehead, a Vision 2030 volunteer and president of Whitehead Die Casting.
Dan Schultz with the City of Oakwood talks on camera about that very thing.
“The hope is that those spurs in the Oakwood portion of the trail will help facilitate the growth of our downtown in conjunction with the growth of the trail,” he says.
The video, along with other pertinent information about the Highlands to Islands Trail, can be found online at highlandstoislands.org.