​Local Team Develops Plan to Capitalize on the Area’s Natural and Cultural Assets

A team from Tracy City participated in a three-day workshop designed specifically for towns and communities bordering national or state parks, forests, and other treasured public lands in the Appalachian Region. Working with national and regional experts on sustainable tourism, economic development, the arts, natural and cultural resources, transportation, and branding, the four-person team crafted a new vision that focuses on the unique Appalachian assets that make the South Cumberland Plateau an appealing place to live, work and recreate.

The Tracy City team included Nadene Moore, with the Tracy City Council and Grundy Historical Society; Christi Teasley, with the Grundy Area Arts Council; Patrick Dean, with Mountain Goat Trail Alliance; and Emily Partin, with Grundy County Schools. The team has worked together on multiple projects for the Tracy City area, all in an effort to revitalize the historic downtown section of town.
Tracy City team member Emily Partin explained the origins of the project. “In a recent community needs assessment, Tracy City residents expressed a desire for more safe gathering places for families. To meet this need, the Town purchased a tract of land in the historic district where the old Railroad Roundhouse once stood. We believe the development of this area as the Tracy City Old Roundhouse Park, a simple green space in town with a pavilion and seating, will provide opportunities for both old and young to gather together. I think that’s what our community wants.”
The partnership of the Appalachian Regional Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Conservation Fund, and HTC Partners convened the program. This pilot offering of the Advanced Project Implementation Workshop for Appalachian Gateway Communities was designed for communities that already had a record of success in transforming their area and were ready to take their efforts to a new level. The program featured customized coaching sessions and instructional sessions on topics including building and sustaining capacity, engaging youth, financing and measuring success. Seven Appalachian communities with participants that included public land managers, elected officials, business and tourism representatives, civic leaders, and community arts representatives were accepted to attend the pilot workshop.
Interestingly, as the Mountain Goat Trail snakes its way across the Plateau, it runs straight through the proposed park. “The park will be the very center of the 35-plus miles of trail between Cowan and Palmer,” Partin said, “making this a great trailhead.” Tracy City expects to see an economic uptick as a result of both the Mountain Goat Trail and The Old Roundhouse Park.
“The Tracy City/Mountain Goat Trail/Grundy Area Arts Council partnership was an ideal candidate for the Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative because of the terrific natural and cultural resources and the emphasis of the arts in its community’s plans,” said Director of The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network, Katie Allen. “It’s our goal to help communities capitalize on the success of their efforts to date and to continue to foster valuable partnerships, reinforce development plans that balance environmental and economic goals, and enable places like Tracy City to become even more vibrant and thriving communities.”
The Appalachian Gateway Communities Regional Workshop is part of an initiative developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2007, the Gateway Initiative has helped gateway communities across Appalachia expand tourism and other economic development opportunities through community assessments, tourism planning workshops and grants for project implementation. The Conservation Fund and HTC Partners have partnered to strengthen the leadership capacity of towns, cities and communities that neighbor publicly protected natural and recreational lands in distressed, transitional or at-risk counties.
The workshop was held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W. Va.