Greenway a place for all to enjoy
Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2009 10:13 am
Brown was killed in a July 2000 bicycling accident near Martin. A UT Martin campus recreation staff member at the time of his death, he envisioned a greenway that would provide a safe recreational trail for area residents. After his death, individuals and groups united to realize Brown’s dream.
Area residents, elected officials, and Brown family members and friends attended the 10 a.m. event. Dr. Laura Brown, Brian’s widow and a UT Martin faculty member, and the couple’s children, Boone and Georgia, sat behind the podium situated on a rise just above the paved trail as speakers told about the dedication and persistence that created the greenway. The trail starts at the Highway 431 and Skyhawk Parkway intersection and winds east through an old railroad bed and university farmland toward the city.
David Belote, Martin city alderman and a personal friend of Brian’s, quickly turned the gathering into a celebration of Brown’s life and the inspiration he provided to build the greenway. He recalled Brown’s personal philosophy of “pray hard, play hard, work hard and love your family,” adding, “Brian saw everyone as family.”
Belote introduced Martin Mayor Randy Brundige who said, “We’ve persevered many years trying to get this greenway under way, and finally we got a portion of it built. We’ve still got a portion to go though, and I know with the Greenway Foundation’s help, we’re going to complete that task in the years to come.”
The greenway was originally financed with a $310,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation Grant, plus $80,000 in matching funds to be raised by the community.
Belote recalled the daunting task and how many individuals and groups stepped forward to raise money, even once bringing a circus to town as a fund-raiser. “Some of the folks that have been a part of this had to ride elephants to make this happen,” he said.
Dr. Tim Johnston, now a Murray State faculty member and past president of the Brian Brown Greenway Foundation, Inc., brought his family to join the celebration.
He recalled greenway volunteers experiencing “lots of emotional ups and downs,” including the first grant application that was turned down in 2003. He said that greenway volunteers decided, “We need to raise the priority and the visibility of Martin’s project. There’s a big stack of these applications in Nashville.”
So, he said they asked a group of bike riders, led by UT Martin chemistry professor Phil Davis, to ride bicycles from Martin to Nashville to personally deliver the second grant application to TDOT officials.
This step, combined with the support of many elected officials, resulted in approval of the grant a year later.
Belote closed by thanking the university, the city of Martin, TLM Associates of Jackson and many others for their efforts. He reported 49 businesses and civic groups, plus 134 individuals who have made significant contributions to the project.
He also emphasized that more work lies ahead to complete the greenway to downtown Martin. Application for a second grant is due Nov. 1, 2010, plus there’s property to be purchased and about $50,000 in additional funds to be raised.
“The challenge is to get to Lindell Street. That’s our charge. I hope you’re in with us, and let’s finish this dream, this vision for Brian Brown,” he said.
The event concluded as the crowd moved a short distance to the trail for a ribbon-cutting ceremony where the trail moves east across the university’s Farm Road. As Laura Brown cut the ribbon, the greenway officially opened to a grateful community. Fittingly, many in attendance headed east on the trail for an inaugural walk. Brian Brown’s spirit was in evidence as the greenway bearing his name officially came to life.