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Richard Bishop hired to develop The Dragonfly trail system in Columbus

Richard Bishop, outgoing president of Uptown Columbus, has been hired by the Friends of the Greenway Trail Fund at the Community Foundation as project director for the design and construction of trails being developed throughout Muscogee County.
Richard Bishop, outgoing president of Uptown Columbus, has been hired by the Friends of the Greenway Trail Fund at the Community Foundation as project director for the design and construction of trails being developed throughout Muscogee County. Mike Haskey/mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

Richard Bishop, the outgoing president of Uptown Columbus Inc. and the Business Improvement District, has a new job.

He has been hired by the Friends of the Greenway Trail Fund, a group based at the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley. Bishop will serve as project director for the design and engineering of trails being developed throughout Muscogee County.

Betsy Covington, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, made the announcement Tuesday while updating Columbus Council on the project, which will eventually provide a 60-mile trail network throughout the area.

“The advisers to the fund were interested in Richard’s help because of his long experience working with the city and members of the community,” Covington said in an email to the Ledger-Enquirer. “His work at Uptown demonstrated that he is a great facilitator for public/private partnerships.

“He understands the big picture improvements that can move a community forward and he can execute detail work so that the finished product is perfectly aligned with the expectations,” she added.

Bishop had served as president of Uptown Columbus Inc. since 2005, following a job as Columbus deputy city manager. After announcing his resignation in July, he became a finalist for the city manager’s job in Senoia, Ga., but later withdrew his name from consideration.

On Tuesday, Bishop attended the Columbus Council meeting with Covington. Later, he described the position as a part-time job and said he planned to launch some type of consulting company over the next few months.

“I’m fortunate to be able to assist the city and the foundation in its effort to make our community a better place,” he said in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer.

During her presentation, Covington said the construction of the first trail, connecting the Fall Line Trace to the Chattahoochee RiverWalk, is getting underway. In an email to the Ledger-Enquirer, she described the trails as 12-foot-wide sidewalks that snake along road right of ways, making it easy for people to walk, roller skate, push baby strollers and bike for recreation and for transportation.”

Covington also revealed the trail system’s new name. Originally dubbed The RiverLink, she said the system will now be called The Dragonfly.

The name was recommended by Teresa Burkett, an employee at the University of Georgia county extension office in Columbus. Covington said Burkett responded to a Facebook post requesting suggestions.

“Dragonflies are an indicator species for clean, healthy water in a community,” Covington said. “The dragonfly population in Columbus has apparently exploded as the Chattahoochee has become a healthier river in recent years. Also, dragonflies imply motion and freedom, and they’re cute on hats and T-shirts. We see this as a great way to create a memorable, marketable trail system for our community that underscores the fun nature of trail usage and ties to the public/private commitment we’ve made to foster clean water for our community.”

The Fall Line Trace currently ends on 10th Avenue, across the street from the Midtown Medical Center. As a result of the construction project, it will extend west along Linwood Boulevard, connecting with the RiverWalk at the Frank K. Martin Pedestrian Bridge on 14th Street, beside the TSYS parking garage.

The projected completion date is summer 2017, Covington said, but the organization would like to have much of it completed before a Georgia Trail Summit being held in Columbus on April 20-22.

The Friends of the Greenway Trail Fund is a privately funded group that has hired the Atlanta-based PATH Foundation to design and build an additional 27 miles of greenway trail in Muscogee County, according to information provided by Covington.

Alva James-Johnson: 706-571-8521, @amjreporter

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