Friday, October 10, 2008

Greenline for Green Jobs targets rail line potential

By Pamela Perkins (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Transforming an abandoned railway overgrown with weeds and kudzu will do more than create a landscaped haven for bikers, walkers and nature lovers.

Supporters say it will help create jobs.

"Part of what you see is a recreational opportunity. But it's also an economic opportunity," said Sid Lerner, board member of the Greater Memphis Greenline, a nonprofit group working to turn the old CSX rail line into a 13-mile string of park area from Midtown to Cordova.

He was speaking Saturday to 20 or so people at a local event organized to observe the "National Day of Action" for Green Jobs Now, a campaign for job creation and training in projects that help fight oil dependence and sustain the environment.

"The bottom line was to build consensus across the country to take to politicos to get them to fund green jobs initiatives," said Lynn Strickland, a local representative of Green For All "The Dream Reborn" program and who said many of those jobs would pay living wages.

Also, as the proposed Greenline lures people away from gas guzzling over to bicycling and hiking, it could create hundreds of new customers for business in communities it cuts through.

"A business like this would see tremendous benefit," said Lerner at High Point Terrace Pizza, where the group met before escorting them to the rail line at High Point Terrace near Johnwood.

A coalition of environmental, labor and architectural groups released a study earlier this month stating that a two-year, $100 billion national green energy and economic recovery program could create create 2 million jobs nationwide and 44,942 jobs in Tennessee.

The nonprofit Memphis Community Connector Inc. has proposed paying CSX Transportation $5 million for rights to the railway.

And Shelby County Commissioners last week approved using a $324,900 federal grant to conduct an environmental site assessment on the rail line.

The other local "National Day of Action" event was the Healthy Home Performance Analysis in the Riverview-Kansas area. The day was also locally observed at the Memphis Zoo Harvest Festival and by the Sierra Club at the Bartlett Festival.

-- Pamela Perkins: 529-6514

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