This one is a little more pie in the sky, but wouldn’t it be “really neat” to run an overhead tram from the parking garage downtown to the top of Monte Sano, with possibly a stop at the Land Trust?
The idea would be to provide easier access to Monte Sano, but also act as a show piece for the city to attract businesses and people to the area.
From downtown to the top of Monte Sano could be a 15 minute ride, and you could get to park your car downtown in the garage where its relatively safe, dry and out of the weather.
This would be something similar to Portland, Oregon’s aerial tram http://www.gobytram.com/, but probably smaller. Or similar to a ski resort’s tram such as Snowbird Utah’s.
These systems have the ability to transport numerous people relatively quickly, to desirable, but not necessarily accessible locations. I think there are some that are big enough to transport as many as 20 to 30 people at a time.
The key points would/could be
• Base it downtown where there is existing infrastructure to support larger numbers of people and cars for events, and what not.
• Monte Sano could be renovated to take make it more accessible and take advantage of what it already has, such as the meeting facilities/ amphitheater, the pool, the picnic grounds, etc. The good thing is the stuff is already there.
• The lodge (which could potentially also double as the tram stop) could be renovated and/or expanded, to host more and larger events such as weddings and conferences.
• A stop at Land Trust would allow access for hikers/bikers and also help attract attention to their organization and their worthy mission
The benefits that I can come up with are:
1. Attracting more visitors, residents, and businesses downtown.
a. Having access to the mountain would provide incentive for more residential development around the tram I would think.
b. More people living downtown would probably translate into more people working downtown with additional businesses coming int the surrounding neighborhoods
2. New businesses centered around the base of the tram (a.k.a. the parking garage) could include
b. retail, such as outdoor clothing, bicycle shops and the like
c. service businesses
i. event coordinators
ii. print shops
iii. caterers and food service
iv. medical services (people do fall of their bikes)
v. and any number of other businesses associate with event planning
3. Provide easier access to Monte Sano.
a. The roads going up there are pretty sketchy in good weather especially if you aren’t familiar with mountain driving.
b. The safety benefits can’t be ignored.
4. Possibly provide revenue/money for ongoing repair and renovation work at the park
a. For example, the amphitheater is/would be a great place to see concerts and plays on a summer night, but it needs a little work.
b. The easy access via tram means that large groups of people can move up the mountain quickly, and be downtown for a drink afterwards just as quickly
c. I’ve never been, but I hear a lot of people talk about enjoying spending time at the pool there. It could provide easier access especially on weekends.
5. This could also help Huntsville become a destination for sports such as mountain biking.
a. For example, the trails for hiking and lightweight/family oriented biking are great at the top,
b. If you’re more serious, Land Trust is just down the hill.
6. It could also be a way to show off some of the advanced engineering that goes on around here.
a. UAH is here
b. NASA, and the Army are here
c. Large Defense contractors are here
d. Government money flows through this town
i. there are more than a few smart people here that can engineer advanced solutions
ii. There may be tie in’s with federally research (i.e. grant money) to demonstrate new transportation technologies.
7. Provide a Postcard picture that would be associated with Huntsville as a vibrant, beautiful location to live and work.
From what I’ve read, there is precedence for this: http://digitalarchives.hmcpl.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15431coll5/id/30/rec/1
Anyway, enough daydreaming. I just wanted to put this idea out there as something to think about.
There are numerous issues that would have to be dealt with, and it could cost more than a few dollars to do something like this.
The question becomes, “would it be worth it?” I don’t know, but I still think it’s a pretty cool idea. :)