The Lindsay Pettus Greenway on Friday (Feb. 24th) announced an ambitious $3 million fundraising campaign to pay for the first 2 miles of the walking trial along Gills Creek through the city of Lancaster.
Greenway President Sherri Gregory said the project has already received commitments totaling $750,000 toward that goal.
“We’ve been out working in the community and gathering partnerships,” Gregory said during the campaign kickoff at USC Lancaster.
Founders Federal Credit Union has agreed to provide a $200,000 challenge grant (up to $50,000 annually for four years) to match individual and corporate sponsorships dollar per dollar. Founders will match government or foundation donations with $1 for every $5 received.
Founders CEO Bruce Brumfield called the greenway a win-win for everyone involved and said he is looking forward to seeing the project get off the ground.
Brumfield cited the impact that the 2,100-acre Anne Springs Close Greenway has had in neighboring York County, noting that the 5.7-mile greenway has become a mecca and economic engine for Fort Mill.
“We have to have the things that attract younger families to our community,” he said. “People here may not want to say that is a problem, but it is.
“Young people want to be where there are things for young families to do,” Brumfield said. “If you don’t meet those needs, young people are going to go where those things exist.”
Lindsay Pettus, the local conservationist and historian who proposed the greenway, said he envisions it as a place where children laugh and play and learn about birds, butterflies and wildflowers during leisurely strolls along the creek banks.
“It gives us a chance to get nature together with people and people together with nature,” he said at Friday’s event. “The thing that unites us is that we are all part of one world.”
The greenway will be a hard-surface pedestrian trail. The first phase starts behind Clinton Elementary School and heads west along Gills Creek through Constitution and Independence parks, between Lancaster High and North Elementary schools and to Gillsbrook Road.
The estimated cost of the first phase – from behind the old Barr Street High School campus to Gillsbrook Road – is $3 million. It also includes construction of an environmental education center.
Barry Beasley, Katawba Valley Land Trust executive director, said the campaign is ambitious but realistic and achievable, thanks to a combination of public and private support.
So far, the project includes financial commitments from the Carolina Thread Trail, the city of Lancaster, the J. Marion Sims Foundation, Builders Supply, Haile Gold Mine, J&S Inc., as well as a number of individuals.
Dean Faile, president/CEO of Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, said he actively seeks out greenways when vacationing with his family. He has no doubt that Lancaster’s greenway will become a uniting community asset.
Faile said in the past 20 years, Chattanooga has been transformed from one of the worst cities to live in, into one of the fastest-growing thriving business communities in the nation. The keys to dynamic growth there, he said, have been great family-friendly greenways and gigabyte Wi-Fi.
“Every time I go to these communities, I come back here and say, ‘Why not us?’” Faile said.
He said the greenway, which ultimately would stretch 5 miles, can be a backbone and anchor for growth, economic development and industry. It would connect at downtown streets along Gills Creek, as well at USC Lancaster, Springs Memorial Hospital and Springdale Recreation Complex.