Friends of Rotary Park

This is a service provided to the users of Rotary Park in Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee. It is hosted by Friends of Rotary Park, a newly formed volunteer group that is dilligently working to improve the trail network at the park. This site provides information about current, past, and future trail development.


Rotary Park is a county-owned natural park in Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee. It consists of two adjoining tracts of land that make up about 95 acres of mostly undeveloped, wooded land. There is one park entrance/exit that is paved and runs to the back of the park. There are three pavilions along the roadway with the largest being at the road's end. Rotary Park has an extensive trail network and is open to hikers and bikers. The new push for extensive trail work is necessary because most trails were improperly built by ATVs and motorcycles. Motorized vehicles are now banned from the park. Furthermore, the trails are showing signs of serious erosion. Most recently, a large amount of sustainable trail located outside of the park's boundary has been taken by development. The Friends of Rotary Park is dedicated to restoring and improving the park. Those interested in joining Friends of Rotary Park can do so by contacting Chris Clark at 931-801-3898. Dues are $25.00 for a family membership.

Friday, February 24, 2006

February 24, 2006

Good news everybody.

First and foremost, a special thanks goes to Ms. Suva Bastin for her generous donation to Friends of Rotary Park. Suva joined the organization and made an additional donation in January. I'm sorry, Suva, that I am just now getting around to giving you the public recognition that you deserve.

Also, I have been in contact with Gary Hamm and things are moving forward with the park. Gary has been working hard to get the park re-opened. Unfortunately, there had been a breakdown in the communications between our group and the county since December's Conservation Board Meeting. I am very happy to say that the bugs have been worked out and the lines of communication are once again open. Gary tells me that the insurance details are worked out and the park facilities will be covered by the county's risk management pool (insurance). Additionally, insurance is going to cover facility upgrades that will make at least one of the restrooms (probably at Pavilion III) A.D.A. compliant.

The county has had three different loggers come and look at the park. All three said that the conditions were too dangerous for them to come in and remove the downed/damaged trees. Gary and the County are actively exploring other options. Furthermore, for those of you worried that the County may sell the park, you can put those worries to rest. Gary tells me that the County has used federal money for funding at Rotary Park. This means the County is prohibited from selling the park unless they provide a similar park with the same amenities. This is way too costly and not going to happen. Gary and I will be meeting in the near future to begin forming the strategic plan for the park's rebirth. Stay tuned.

Also, based on the site counter below, I see that a lot of people are viewing this blog. However, I don't get a lot of feedback. If some of you who are reading this would post a comment or drop me an e-mail with your thoughts I would appreciate it. If you think of ways this site could be improved or provide more useful information, please don't hesitate to let me know. This is a service that Friends of Rotary Park provides for you and I want you to get the most possible from it. Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

February 21, 2006

Dear Friends:

I have been in contact with William Anderson, the President of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association). For those of you who follow trail news around Tennessee, you are probably familiar with SORBA's Singletrack initiative in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Singletrack Initiative is a collaboration between SORBA and Chattanooga area governments to create 100 miles of singletrack in 10 years in and around Chattanooga. It has received national recognition. Hikers: Don't worry. Even though this is a mountain biking group, they advocate the building of multiuse trails in parks like Rotary. Everything will be built with both the hiker and biker in mind.

I originally contacted William to see if SORBA would be interested in working with our group on Rotary Park's rebuild. Not only is SORBA willing to send some workers, William has asked to come down and meet with me regarding the creation of our action plan for Rotary Park.

I look forward to the day when we can all be out there working on and using the trails together again. I think that day is just around the corner. A very special thanks is owed to the Tennessee Trails Association and SORBA for their interest and help with our park. We are lucky to have groups like this to assist in our efforts.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Correspondence with County

The following is the response that I just received from Gary Hamm as well as my return response.

Dear Chris,
Thank you for your letter of concern regarding RotaryPark. The majority of debris along the roads and around the pavilions andrestrooms have been cleared. We are awaiting the repair of the chipping machine to continue. On Friday, 02/10/06 I met with the County's insurance agent and a GAB Robbins adjuster to inspect the park. We have been given permission to move forward in order to secure bids for repair of all the parks facilities toinclude ADA compliance and code upgrades. The Maintenance Department worked a solid month after the tornado and has averaged two days a week at the park in addition to their regular duties. A massive amount of work has been accomplished and much more needs to be done.

We are close to allowing volunteers in the park although there is still danger from falling trees and limbs. I would welcome a meeting to start the trail rebuilding process with you and your board. Chris, I have checked all e-mail files and phone logs and have only two phone calls concerning the park and no e-mails. Please check the e-mail address as I do wish to respond. My cell phone number is 3202340, office - 9201865 and fax -6489206. My office is in the Historic Court House, 1 Millennium Plaza, Suite103. Please call for an appointment as I am often out of the office.

Chris, I would appreciate your contact list from Montgomery Bell State Park asthe PARTAS Consultant has not yet had a chance to respond to our requests fromour January 9 and 11, 2006 meetings. I checked the Conservation Board minutesand my own notes but did not see any comments concerning Montgomery Bell State Parks tornado difficulties. Chris I would like to see their plan of action, sounds like a good idea to really keep the ball rolling.

MontgomeryCounty is a wonderful place in which to live and I am saddened that some members of our community feel any hostility at all towards the county as a whole. Chris, I look forward to working with you. Please call me or respond to my e-mail so that I know that we have better communications. Looking forward to working with you.
Thank you for your time and patience,

It is good to hear from you and good to hear that there is some progress at the park. My contact for Montgomery Bell State Park is Tommy Hatcher (615 316-9417, 3130 Stafford Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37214). He is the key volunteer for the Mountain Bike park at Montgomery Bell. He designed and coordinated the building of all trails in that part of the park and works closely with park rangers regarding rules, regulations, and ongoing trail maintenance. I'm sorry that I don't have his e-mail address. I'm sure he will be glad to discuss the ongoings there at the park.

I have seen the debris clean-up around the park entrence/roadway and what has been done looks good. I took pictures of the damage a day or two after tornado so I remember how bad it was.

The reason for my e-mails and my concern is that I am getting calls/e-mails from people saying that they have called the phone number on the gate sign at the park and are getting the run-around from different county employees about what is going on. I don't know why your records only show that there were two calls and no e-mails. I have been using the e-mail address on the county's website. It is hypertexted so I just click on it. Perhaps it needs to be updated.

Just yesterday I got a call from someone who said he called the number on the sign. He explained that he was forwarded to several people, none of which knew what was going on. He then was put through to someone who told him that the situation was so dangerous that the county could not find volunteers willing to go in and clean it up. When the caller informed him about our group and that we were just waiting for permission to work, the person backtracked and changed his story. This is not the first time that I have heard this type of story. Users of the park are getting worried that the lack of communication coupled with the changing stories may mean that county is planning on selling the park and using the "its too expensive to fix" story as an excuse to do so. I certainly hope this is not the situation.

I think a lot of the frustration on my (our) part is two fold: 1) I don't like not being able to be "hands on" with the park's rebuild (at least at this stage) after a period of being over there every week. 2) J.R. had to resign as President of our organization due to his upcoming App. Trail trek. This somehow stuck me with that title. Due to this title, people are constantly looking to me for information on what is going on. It is frustrating not being able to tell them. Call me a victim of the corporate world but as an attorney I love action plans, time tables, and deadlines. I feel that by putting these things in writing and opening the line of communication between us we can greatly improve both of these problems.

I would really like to be able to communicate to my group a clear action plan with tentative dates to have each stage complete. I find that people respond more positively to situations when these things are clear.

With that said, I have the following questions:

1) By what date do you plan on having the park ready for volunteer labor?

2) Can volunteers begin clearing/rerouting the trials before the facilities work is completed? (I see the two as separate tasks that can be completed independently of the other. Do you agree?)

3) We were set to begin re-routing a section of trail left of the park entrance in the TVA easement. We worked on sections of the trail before and after this section waiting until winter for this section due to the thick brush that grows the other three seasons. Since there are no trees in the easement, can I begin working on this section now before the spring brush begins to grow? It can be accessed from the top without going through the park entrance and there is no danger of falling trees. It will require a substantial full-bench cut. With your trail building experience, I know you are aware of how labor intensive this is.

4) What is our absolute deadline for having the park open?

I look forward to hearing from you on these issues and having a more open line of communication.

Chris Clark

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

February 15, 2006

No word yet from Gary Hamm. An e-mail was also sent today to County Mayor Weiland. We will see if there is a response. With the weather improving, I expect the county to be fielding more calls about the park reopening. As for now, lets keep our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Letter to County

Hey gang:

The following is a letter to Mr. Gary Hamm with Montgomery County. County Executive Doug Weiland assigned him to oversee park cleanup while Ms. Stacy Goodwin is on maternity leave. I sent the e-mail today in hopes that we can get the park open as soon as possible. I will let everyone know what I learn.

Letter sent from Chris Clark to Gary Hamm, February 1, 2006:

I hope this letter finds you well. I just wanted to check and see how things are going with the clean up at Rotary Park. Has there been any work done to restore the trail network itself? Is there any way that Friends of Rotary Park can be involved or help out?

I just wanted to take some time to renew our commitment to the park and remind you that we have experienced trail builders and volunteers standing by waiting for the opportunity to help. For your benefit, I have taken the time to contact County Attorney Roger Maness with regards to any potential liability issues involving volunteer help. According to Mr. Maness, all we would have to do is fill out a Hold Harmless agreement for each volunteer for the county to keep on file. Stacy Goodwin has sent me copies of those prepared and used by the county. It is my understanding that many of our volunteers already have these forms on file with the county. We also have funds allocated for use in the park once the trails are reopened.

I know that you have concerns with diseased trees and had recommended their removal. You informed me that you wanted the State Forester to evaluate the park prior to its reopening. I know that these are legitimate concerns but I also understand that these issues can be dealt with after the park is reopened.

A similar storm also caused considerable damage to the mountain bike trails at Montgomery Bell State Park around the same time as our tornado. However, the ranger and volunteers there cleared the trails first, moved the debris to the side, re-opened the trials, and are now removing the debris. I attended a "work day" this past Saturday at Montgomery Bell. There were over twenty cars in the parking lot. Everyone worked all morning, cooked out and ate, then enjoyed the trials all afternoon. If there is a reason that this plan would not work for Rotary Park, please let me know so I can inform the public and our members. Otherwise, we would like to see the same thing done at Rotary Park. Our members would like to see the park open no later than March.

Should you have any questions or concerns about our volunteers or how we could help, please feel free to contact me.

Chris Clark,
President, Friends of Rotary Park