A new welcome center on the Tanglefoot Trail in New Albany is partially open.
The welcome center is located next to the Union County Library.
Public bathrooms at the welcome center are now accessible. But the rest of the welcome center is still not open.
Plans are in the works to open the rest of the welcome center, but there is no target date on when the rest of the facility may open, said Billye Jean Stroud, director of New Albany Main Street.
“It's in the process of all being pulled together . . .,” said Stroud.
Fortunately, the public restrooms at the welcome center are already open, she said.
Stroud hopes the inside of the welcome center can feature an interpretive center with historical information.
The welcome center is another nice addition to the community, and “it's a very attractive building,” Stroud said.
The facility could include photographs, information about the Chickasaw Indians and history related to the railroad, the trail and William Faulkner.
There is no reason to open the rest of the welcome center until there is something to see, she added.
The welcome center could also have brochures, some retail items, such as bike shirts, and information from other communities along the trail.
It is important for the cities along the trail to promote each other, she added.
The 44-mile trail runs from New Albany to Houston, and in between are the communities of Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma and New Houlka.
“It's an economic booster for all our communities, not just New Albany,” Stroud said.
The welcome center may also be a place to collect information from trail users such as where they are from. She hopes the welcome center can be staffed with volunteers.
Last week, she was working on getting bids for outdoor furnishings. There are also native plants around the welcome center.
“Eventually, it will morph into a nice little educational stop for people . . .,” said Stroud.
The facility also “coincides nicely” with the library, she said. The Union County Library, which is by the trail, recently started a free program in which people can check out bikes and helmets to use on the trail.
Stroud said the welcome center building was funded by Three Rivers Planning and Development, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the city of New Albany.