The Union Recorder

April 9, 2014

The Oconee River Greenway is a privilege and a responsibility

The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Oconee River Greenway has a new and safer entranceway and an effort is underway to get the message across to visitors.

The expansion underway through Phase 2 of the greenway project provides access to more of the Oconee River for visitors to enjoy, but that access comes with a level of responsibility to which we should all adhere. Visitors need to remember to care for this resource with proper stewardship so the Oconee River Greenway remains safe and cared for.

The old Hancock Street entrance is officially closed now that the new entranceway is open, part of the latest developments in the Phase 2 greenway extension. The extended driveway at Greene Street is one of the new features in the latest phase of the Greenway expansion, providing a safer entrance to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

But some visitors are frequently parking on the grass between the river bridge and the boat ramp, causing damage to the area not to mention disrespecting the tranquility of this natural corridor. Another issue is visitors entering the new area construction, which has not yet been completed.

The next phase of the Oconee River Greenway won’t officially open until next month, on May 17. Visitors are urged not to enter the new section until its finished for safety concerns.

If the issues persist, Greenway officials say they’ll consider citing offenders, utilizing Milledgeville and Georgia Military College police — and rightfully so.

The Greenway Phase 2 expansion has been a tremendous undertaking many months in the making, and as it nears completion it’s only right that we all take responsibility as citizens in caring for this natural feature that adds tremendously to the beauty of Baldwin County.

This extension of the greenway goes a long way in furthering the Oconee River Greenway Authority’s mission in connecting the community through greenspaces. Phase 2 includes one mile of 10-foot concrete trails north of the river bridge, a boardwalk over Phase 1 wetlands, overlooks, a dog park featuring fountains, dog stations and picnic tables, and a more permanent concert stage, all features that will add to the Greenway as a regional tourism draw and enhance the quality of life for Baldwin County. Total construction costs hover around $1.3 million.

The expansion efforts allow visitors twice the natural area to enjoy, and we must all remember to show care and concern for the greenway because it provides so much to this community.

We all have a responsibility to uphold by not disrespecting the area, and demonstrating this minimal level of citizen stewardship allows us to reciprocate in some small way. The greenway project is such a tremendous undertaking with a potentially major impact on the local community, it’s only right that we respect it by showing care and concern for this natural jewel that enhances Baldwin County in such a special way.

Those who frequently ignore their responsibility take something away from all of us who wish to enjoy the greenway with our families and friends, and they should not get a free pass in doing so.

It isn't about complying with rules as much as caring for our community. The Oconee River Greenway is just one example where thoughtless and selfish behavior should be avoided.