We want to take a moment to congratulate our Capital Areas Pathway Project partners on yesterday’s remarkable groundbreaking ceremony, marking the first step toward a new walking/running trail system for East Baton Rouge Parish.

For now, the 2.2 mile muddy patches of land surrounding the Mall of Louisiana, stretching toward Picardy Bridge and onto Siegen Lane, may not look like much. But in the coming months, we’ll see the area developed to create a pristine paved trail way, meant to spur area residents to get up and get moving.

“This is a tremendous milestone,” said Carl Stages, executive director of the BREC foundation, which supports the work of BREC, the public parks and recreation facilities for East Baton Rouge Parish. “One of the lessons we’ve learned is that once you build a trail, and people realize the potential for it’s use, then they make they most of it. This will become a transportation corridor to get to the mall, running clubs will use it, walkers will use it, bikers will use it, we’ll see community 5Ks hosted here – it has tremendous potential.”

The folks at BREC are our partners in the CAPP program, funded by the 2004 “Imagine Your Parks” taxpayer initiative and a $1 million donation from Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana(a state-wide, multi-million dollar grant program launched earlier this year from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation).

Our own Christy Reeves, executive director for the foundation, attended yesterday’s event, even grabbing a shovel to take part in the official ground breaking.

“When we started the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program, our aim was to reduce Louisiana’s rising obesity by providing funding to develop innovative partnerships that promote health lifestyles,” Reeves said. “From what I’ve seen today, I am confident that the Capital Area Pathways Project will do just that for the people of our state.”

But there’s more to come. Yesterday’s ceremony only marked phase one of what will eventually become a 7.4 mile loop, connecting Essen lane, Perkins Road Park, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, the LSU Rural Life Museum and Perkins Rowe. Along the way, expect to see a new mobile playground, spurring more activity among the area’s young athletes-to-be.

In the words of Carolyn McKnight, superintendent of BREC, “Stay tuned! This is just the beginning. The people of east Baton Rouge really want this… And now, without further ado, let’s break some ground!”

And so they did, with officials from BREC, BCBSLAF and The Grove developer Richard Carmouche seizing shovels to slice into the wet dirt.

Well done, everyone – proving once again that when you work together, you can make real change happen. The best is yet to come, but we are already proud of you.