Fortunate enough to have an intact historical district and access to recreational amenities, Tracy City has begun a serious effort to become the gateway community to the region’s outdoor and cultural assets for travelers. Seeking to leverage their early successes to drive local economic development, a group of Tracy City representatives formed a team to attend The Conservation Fund’s Appalachian Gateway Community Regional Workshop, an offering of the Appalachian Gateway Community Initiative in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the National Endowment of the Arts that helps communities capitalize on their natural assets to develop comprehensive strategy to catalyze natural and cultural heritage tourism. 

The Tracy City team—representing the area’s Arts Council, South Cumberland State Park, Tracy City Council, and the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance—attended the workshop in Ringgold, Georgia, with other Appalachian gateway communities from Virginia, Georgia, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. Through a mix of expert-led instructional sessions focused on building local asset-based economies, funding and building partnerships to implement projects, and tackling bigger efforts like transportation, wayfinding, marketing and dedicated facilitated team planning time, each team came out of the workshop with an action plan.

The Tracy City team’s plan focused on the revitalization and connection of two culturally significant landmarks: Railroad Avenue and Mountain Goat Trail (MGT). Railroad Avenue—home to a former roundhouse and depot facility that was once the regional economic engine of coal and coke production—would be transformed into a public park and trailhead. The plan also called for extending the MGT—a rails-to-trails style project—from the town of Monteagle into downtown Tracy City, connecting four municipalities in Franklin and Grundy Counties. Tracy City was to serve as a gateway for access to this new park and trailhead, to be known as Old Roundhouse Park, and their action plan gave them tangible steps to make it happen.  

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Tracy City Old Roundhouse Park model. The proposed Mountain Goat Trail is a 35-mile rails-to-trails project connecting communities from Cowan to Palmer. Credit: Hedstrom Design

Why This Project Matters

The vision for Old Roundhouse Park will provide an outlet for local residents and nearby communities to have a place to gather, provide a venue for the arts, and enhance downtown life for families as well as welcome visitors. The team planned for an aggressive timeline to complete the acquisition of the Old Roundhouse property, complete the Tracy City section of the Mountain Goat Trail, and create a master plan for the design of the park in a matter of seven months—and they did it!

The workshop gave team leaders tools to leverage partnerships with the stakeholders like the City of Tracy City, Discover Together Grundy—a county-wide effort to support family resiliency organization—the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and the Southeast Tennessee Development District to secure critical funding for their project. The city won a $604,000 Alternatives Transportation grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to pay for the trail completion. A seed grant from the workshop helped support the procurement of a consultant to develop a master plan for the park. The team and their partners will continue to raise funds for the construction of the park as the Mountain Goat Trail enters its final construction phase to link Tracy City and develop its newest gateway amenity, continuing their progress in celebrating their natural assets, while building community wealth.

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