Can I Sell You a Trail?

Develop tools and techniques for truly hearing and properly responding to opposition when developing a trail.

by Gregory Kern, Transportation Planner, Michael Baker International

While a majority of people favor the development of trails in their community, there are others who hold a contrary view - that trails may bring unwanted presence, crime, and other negative factors to their backyards. A critical component of the planning and early development of a mixed-use trail is understanding these concerns, and addressing them in an interactive and respectful manner. In my experience in Central Florida, at times it seemed like local stakeholders thought I was "selling them a trail". Through numerous projects/cases, I have refined my approach in developing a trail concept plan, addressing specific local concerns, and engaging local and regional stakeholders toward making a better product. Entertaining cases will highlight the approaches and strategies that may be used.

Learning Objectives:
  • Recognize the various perspectives of various trail users, adjacent property owners, and other stakeholders - perspectives that are often at odds with one another.
  • Identify specific strategies to address the varying perspectives and issues of concern.
  • Develop tools and techniques for truly hearing and properly responding to opposition.

About the Author

Mr. Kern is a transportation planner with more than 25 years of experience in multi-modal corridor studies, preliminary engineering concept development and assessments, and NEPA studies. He has a BA degree from Princeton University, and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. Mr. Kern has worked for both local governmental agencies and for private consulting firms. He is a member of the American Planning Association, and the American Public Works Association. His work on mixed-use trails in Florida include significant portions of the 230-mile St. Johns River to the Sea Trail, and segments of the Florida Coast to Coast Trail.

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