Avalanche of support: Brunswick tops off a month of wins for the Coastal Georgia Greenway

[BRUNSWICK] – The Brunswick City Commission yesterday overwhelmingly endorsed the Coastal Georgia Greenway, a proposed 161-mile system of trails traversing coastal Georgia from Florida to South Carolina.

Brunswick’s endorsement brings to 10 the number of municipal and county governments that have expressed support for the project over the past 4 weeks. Brunswick’s Mayor Bryan Thompson states that “Preliminary analysis indicates that the 155-mile trail will pay for itself within three years, with a projected six percent increase in valuation in each county it traverses every year thereafter. It will help provide safe and accessible routes for pedestrians, bikes, scooters and golf carts, will enable mobility-challenged individuals, tie together currently isolated segments of local communities, and enhance the value of residential developments. The Coastal Georgia Greenway will immediately create significant positive economic impact for Georgia’s coastal communities.”

On July 13th, the Jekyll Island Authority also passed supporting resolutions. Jones Hooks, Executive Director, Jekyll Island Authority states, “As Jekyll Island revitalization moves forward, we are looking at more than bricks and mortar. We are looking at opportunities that will allow our guests to enjoy the natural assets of Jekyll Island. Certainly, the Coastal Georgia Greenway Trail fits this goal perfectly. I am pleased to encourage support of the Coastal Georgia Greenway Trails project!”

“As growth in coastal Georgia continues, it is essential that we protect and position for the enjoyment of others our unique cultural and natural assets. The Coastal Georgia Greenway project is one of the important first steps in creating low impact eco-tourism on our coast. The Coastal Georgia Greenway project should help to preserve for future generations our natural and cultural assets thereby assuring an unparalled quality of life on our coast,” says J. Howard Morrison, Jr. of Lebanon Plantation in Savannah.

The City of Savannah is assisting in the grant-writing process and will assist with project administration, when funded. Mayor Otis Johnson of Savannah notes, “The Coastal Georgia Greenway project scores on many fronts: it would boost our economy through improvements to tourism and quality of life, provide recreational opportunities within a short distance of many of our residents, and would serve as a centerpiece of an improved network for nonmotorized transportation. This project would advance goals of our Thrive and Healthy Savannah initiatives, and the City of Savannah is very enthusiastic about efforts to seek funding for the Coastal Georgia Greenway.”

Other coastal Georgia communities have formally endorsed the greenway in the last month:

  • Chatham County
  • Bryan County
  • McIntosh County
  • Glynn County
  • Darien
  • Kingsland
  • Riceboro
  • Woodbine
  • Richmond Hill

Additional endorsements are anticipated in the coming weeks.

The full press release is available here, or you can read on below.

[Read more...]

SNF-WOW Begins Today

A group of Coastal Georgia leaders meets later today in St. Marys for a four day, four night bike tour and workshop to learn from Northeast Florida leaders about the best and less-than-best of trails already developed and in development.  The culmination of 15 months or so of planning by Florida and coastal Georgia trails leaders, this Savannah-Norhteast Florida Workshop on Wheels promises to kick off many great events to come for the Coastal Georgia Greenway.

Chuck Mobley of the Savannah Morning News has it covered in last Sunday’s paper:

“It’s very important for Savannah’s leaders to recognize the importance of cycling and trails,” said Jo Hickson, a retired landscape architect who said she’s been training diligently to get ready for the riding portion of the workshop.

An increase in the number of trails, both on-road and off-road, and the recognition of their importance, would help encourage young professionals to settle in Savannah, Hickson said.

Other cities and counties have put up successful trails, she said, listing the Pinellas Trail, a linear park and recreation trail that extends from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs, Fla., and the Silver Comet Trail, a 61-mile non-motorized route that starts in Smyrna and runs to the Georgia/Alabama state line.

Those trails are a magnet for ecotourists, Hickson said, adding that Savannah, with its historic attractions, and its boating and fishing destinations, should look for ways to lure people who enjoy touring towns on their bicycles.

Her comments were echoed by Mark Woodruff. A member of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s board of directors, Woodruff rides with the Savannah Wheelmen, a cycling club that leads rides each weekend and organizes the Nestor Cup racing series.

“I moved here from Alexandria, Va.,” Woodruff said. “They have hundreds of miles of trails up there.”

Vikki Graham also sees benefits in the plan.

A member of the Coastal Bicycle Touring Club, Graham said the development of a Coastal Georgia Greenway, and the resultant increase in cycle-specific roads and trails, could help young people.

“An emphasis on cycling participation could help our kids, too many of whom have developed unhealthy habits and are already suffering from obesity,” said Graham, who is a nurse at Memorial Health University Medical Center.

Surely more will follow this week on the Florida side. We may post some updates from the road here.

The Coastal Georgia Greenway Announces Board of Directors

The Coastal Georgia Greenway Inc. elected its founding board of directors in early September. The eight member board has representatives from four of the six coastal counties that the organization serves.

The Coastal Georgia Greenway lobbies for trail development at the grass roots level. It has partnered with the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center, city and county governments and related organizations, such as the East Coast Greenway Alliance, the Gullah Geechee National Heritage Corridor and The MillionMile Greenway (MMG). The organization’s mission is to protect and acquire public access to identified trail corridors, plan for trail construction and promote the use of existing and new trails along Coastal Georgia.

Jo Hickson has worked for the Coastal Georgia Greenway since 1993 and believes that the new board will be a boost for the organization. “We now have an organization that can work to develop private sector support for the extensive trail network in coastal Georgia, whereas before most funding was derived from the public sector.

“We know that community leaders and our elected officials see the benefits that trails bring to our historic cities and towns. They know that a safe trail system allows a community to address public health, quality of life, protection of green space, and build its heritage and eco-tourism,” Hickson said.

The following members will initially serve a one-year term on the board and assist the organization with filing for non-profit status:

Dr. Drew Wade: member at large; radiologist with SouthCoast Medical Group, Savannah
Terry Landreth: member at large; owner, Camden Bicycle, St. Marys
Harvey Gilbert: Chatham County Representative; owner, Gilbert Realty Company, Savannah
Rose M. deVries: Chatham County Representative; Vice President – Private Banking, Darby Bank, Savannah
Jamal Touré: Liberty County Representative; owner, Day Clean: the African Soul; Alternate Commissioner, NPS Gullah Geechee National Heritage Corridor Commission
Al Williams: Liberty County Representative; elected State Representative for House District 165
Eunice M. Moore: McIntosh County Representative; Councilwoman, City of Darien
Anne Orr: Camden County Representative; retired attorney, St. Marys

“Current outmoded transportation and land use models are already unsupportable, and projects like the Coastal Georgia Greenway are an excellent means of transforming communities and improving quality of life,” said Drew Wade.

He added, “We have also partnered with organizations including the East Coast Greenway Alliance and The MillionMile Greenway to form a consortium of sorts to further our efforts as a group. By linking together organizations from up and down the coast, and inland Georgia, our combined momentum can better facilitate change.”

SNF-WOW Registration Open

Jacksonville Baldwin TrailAs many of you are aware, we have been working for several months now to bring a group of leaders from Coastal Georgia together on a tour of the best and less than best of trails in Northeast Florida as a tutorial on trail building.  Registration is now open, and we are looking for up to 25 leaders to join us next January.  The registration form is available at this link, or registrants can place a deposit using Paypal (though an additional processing fee applies).

The Savannah-Northeast Florida Workshop on Wheels (SNF-WOW:  notice how the hyphen moves) will convene in St. Marys January 14 for four days of riding Northeast Florida trails and the best of accomodations, all the while developing useful tools with the people working to put those trails on the ground.  Events will conclude Sunday January 18, one day prior to the Martin Luther King holiday.

Organizers for this Coastal Georgia Greenway event include EverBank Jacksonville, Florida’s St. Johns River Alliance, the First Coast Trails Coalition, and the East Coast Greenway Alliance. All-inclusive cost for attendees has been kept at $450 thanks to significant underwriting by the host committee.

Press Release

CGG, Inc Organizational Meeting Tomorrow

CGGBig things are underway for the Coastal Georgia Greenway. After a little over a year of grassroots development, the Coastal Georgia Greenway is planning the launch of its own 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Coastal Georgia Greenway, Inc. We will be meeting tomorrow night, Thursday, May 29 at 6:30pm at Holton’s Seafood Restaurant in Midway, I-95 Exit 76, @ US 84 (13711 E Oglethorpe Hwy) to identify a steering committee charged with identifying a board and bylaws for our group.

The nonprofit organization will serve to raise private sector funds that could leverage additional federal funding for development of trails here in coastal Georgia, as well as to develop priorities for acquisition and construction. Please consider attending if you have an interest in trails here in the coast! RSVP to Jo Claire Hickson, johickson [at] comcast [dot] net.

Liberty County Meeting: Cancelled

My apologies to anyone who might have gone to this, as I neglected to change the announcement here.  We hope that you will stay involved, and we will see you next time.

October 2007 Meeting minutes

Gullah-Geechee National Heritage Corridor Announced

Yesterday I attended the announcement of the advisors for the new Gullah-Geechee Heritage Corridor. The Georgia advisors are Jeanne Cyriaque and Charles H. Hall. I will provide bio information about our advisors as soon as I get it. This corridor is significant to the Coastal Georgia / East Coast Greenway in that it lies in the coastal areas of NC, SC, GA and FL, areas traversed by our trail, AND in Georgia the following sites have been identified for potential interpretive centers for the new heritage corridor: In Liberty County – Seabrook Village, Midway and LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation; in McIntosh County – Butler Island, Altamaha National Wildlife Refuge/Rice Plantation State Historic Site; Harris Neck National Wildlife Preserve; Sapelo Island Visitors Center, Meridian; Hog Hammock Community, Sapelo Island; and in Glynn – Harrington School, St. Simons Island, and Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation.

from the National Parks Service:

Director Bomar recently announced the selection of the first commissioners for the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, one of 37 Congressionally-designated national heritage areas. The corridor celebrates the contributions to American culture and history made by Africans and African-Americans from the Gullah and Geechee communities along the Atlantic coast from Jacksonville, Florida, to Wilmington, North Carolina.Sapelo Island
“The Gullah people have a very rich cultural history, “said Director Bomar. “The National Park Service has conducted a special study to determine ways to preserve this culture, which is threatened by modern development. The rich diversity of our nation certainly includes this unique society and we must preserve this as another of the precious pieces of the cultural mosaic that is America. The NPS looks forward to working with the Commissions members and with the states.”

The commission will manage the area in partnership with the National Park Service and the state historic preservation offices of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The commission consists of fifteen members; five cultural resource experts and 10 state representatives. Designated in 2006, the corridor recognizes the rich and distinctive Gullah-Geechee culture that has flavored regional folklore, arts, crafts, food and music.

Open House at LeConte Woodmanston Plantation

The LeConte Woodmanston Plantation will host an open house on Saturday, November 3rd from 10:00–2:00 in conjunction with the 1st Annual Geechee Rice Fest. Volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about the Slave Walk Memorial project.

LeConte-Woodmanston Rice Plantation to develop memorial to slaves

LeConte-Woodmanston Rice Plantation (a proposed Liberty County Coastal Georgia Greenway trailhead) in Liberty County has announced plans for a memorial to honor slaves who worked on that plantation:

Memorial to be Established at Former Coastal Rice Plantation

“Slave Walk” commemorates first African-Americans

The Board of Trustees of LeConte-Woodmanston Rice Plantation & Botanical Gardens near Riceboro, Georgia, announced this week its intention to create a slave memorial at its Liberty County site. The Slave Walk, a brick path that will wind through the reclaimed plantation, will bear names of 18th & 19th century Liberty County slaves.

According to Jim and Pat Bacote, founders of the nearby Geechee Kunda Cultural Arts Center and Museum, “Liberty County is the center of African culture in America.” Working in concert with Geechee Kunda and with other historic sites in the area, LeConte-Woodmanston hopes to present a complete picture of the plantation story and the era of enslavement as well as the rich cultural heritage of the first African Americans.

Part of the project will be the collecting of oral histories “before another generation passes” says project director, Mary Beth Evans. “We tend to think of slavery in the abstract, but these were real people, with names and faces and family. Walking in these very footsteps can be quite moving.”

The Slave Walk will be in a style similar to memorials created with donor bricks but will be funded entirely with grant money. The Board will be seeking financial and community support for the memorial and for the completion of the LeConte-Woodmanston Master Plan which was commissioned in 1981 when the site was owned by the Garden Club of Georgia.

LeConte-Woodmanston was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1973. A 64-acre site, carved out of the original 3300-acre plantation, features a botanical garden and a black swamp nature trail. Plans include the reconstruction of historic, scientific and ornamental aspects of the original self-sustaining plantation that kept approximately 200 slaves for its rice production from the 1770’s until the Civil War. The gardens were first established and tended by Louis LeConte and recognized throughout America and in Europe in the early 1800’s. His sons, William and Joseph, made names for themselves on the west coast and in the scientific world. The LeConte Plantation will host an open house on Saturday, November 3rd from 10:00–2:00 in conjunction with the 1st Annual Geechee Rice Fest. Volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about the memorial project.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call Mary Beth Evans at 912-658-4691 or email at mbevans ( a t ) coastalnow (d o t) net.

Georgia Land Conservation Program Meeting cancelled

Curt Soper, director of the GLCP from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority will be at the Hyatt in Savannah August 23 meeting with Greenway representatives to discuss grant opportunities. Meeting with Mr. Soper has been canceled. We will reschedule for a later date, likely in September.