HOUSTON – First impressions are important and Houston Aldermen want Tanglefoot Trail to give visitors to Houston a good opinion about the community.
Alderman at Large Barry Springer asked fellow aldermen to join him on a Saturday tour of the trail to list property that needs to be torn down or cleaned up.
“We are going to be one of the gateway communities on the trail and we need to start doing out part,” said Springer. “As a group we need to decide what we feel need to be done to clean it up a little.”
Springer suggested a Saturday morning tour, with Houston Code Enforcement officer Dewayne Weaver, to make a list of work to be done.
“I think we need to make it clear to Dewayne this is what we want to do with each property we have some concern over,” said Springer. “If there is a factory that needs to clean up, mobile homes that need cleaning up or older homes that need repairs, we need to point this out.”
Springer even suggested putting up to $5,000 in the budget to help with the work.
Mayor Stacey Parker is Houston’s representative on the Tanglefoot Trail Foundation. He said it is past time to get to work.
“The trail will be a huge draw for Houston,” said Parker. “We need to do our part to get ready to capitalize on it.”
Springer said the community will also use Tanglefoot Trail and they need to take pride in their town.
“Let’s face it, railroads go through some rough parts of town and some of that property has been like that for years,” said Springer. “We’re going to make some folks mad, but we either need to enforce our city codes or forget it.”
Clearing and construction on the 44-mile Tanglefoot Trail began last summer. Tanglefoot Trail runs through three North Mississippi counties – Union, Pontotoc and Chickasaw. The Trail begins at Main Street in New Albany and runs approximately 44 miles south to end at Church Street in Houston.
The rails-to-trails project has converted old GM&O railroad track into a 10-foot wide multi-use trail for cyclists and pedestrians. The project will have three-foot wide shoulders on each side of the trail.
The first phase of the project has seen brush cleared from the rail-bed and the repair of about 30 bridges crossing creeks along the corridor. Phase One will see an asphalt surface stretching the length of the trail. Winter weather has slowed paving crews and a spring opening has been pushed back to fall.
The second phase of the project will consist of design and construction of gateway buildings in New Albany, Pontotoc and Houston. This phase will also include the construction of “whistle stop” rest-area facilities at Ingomar, Ecru, Algoma and New Houlka.
Tanglefoot Trail has an estimated economic impact of as much as $4.8 million for Northeast Mississippi. The trail is expected to see up to 100,000 users each year.
“Houston is going to be one of the places where people get on and off the trail,” said Springer. “If this community will come together and get behind this we can be one of the best looking towns on the trail.”
Houston’s gateway will be built near the site of the old railroad depot, south of where the railroad crosses U.S. Highway 8 in Houston.