(SAVANNAH, GA) The City of Savannah has awarded $10 million to the Tide to Town urban trail network, drawing on the anticipated income generated by the increase in Savannah’s hotel/motel taxes. The ambitious trail project – which upon completion will link 75% of Savannah’s neighborhoods to safe walking and biking infrastructure – also will benefit from the $37 million allocated to restore the Historic Waterworks Building in west Savannah, since that project includes trails and sidewalks for the westside neighborhoods and links them into Tide to Town.
According to Armand Turner, Healthy Savannah’s physical activity program manager and Tide to Town board president, the $10 million represents the largest commitment to non-motorized mobility in the city’s history. The funds will finance the planning and engineering of upcoming segments of the Truman Linear Park Trail and the Middleground Road corridor located on Savannah’s south side.
Parts of the Tide to Town trail network are already completed and in use. The Truman Linear Park Trail is a major segment of the larger trail network supported by a network of local partners that include the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah as administrators of the Racial & Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. REACH Grant staff have conducted community outreach across various neighborhoods in Savannah, gathering feedback on the current need for increased pedestrian safety.
“We are delighted in this latest advance in the landmark Tide to Town trail project,” said Turner. “The trail will make safe, healthy and stress-free pedestrian and bicycle access a real transportation option for most of Savannah’s neighborhoods. The trail will serve not only minority and underserved communities, but the community at large as well.”
The trail also has long-term socio-economic development implications, Turner pointed out. The trail will provide priority access for low-income and minority neighborhoods, connecting homes to schools, employment centers, and services, and also providing walking, jogging, skating and biking infrastructure.
The first phase of Tide to Town, the Truman Linear Park Trail, is complete. It links Lake Mayer Park to East DeRenne Avenue. The next phase will connect from DeRenne Avenue up to the Police Memorial Park Trail and Daffin Park. Once all phases are completed, the Truman Trail will connect over 800 acres of park and recreation space, 18 neighborhoods, and two major economic centers, providing needed connectivity for area residents and eco-tourism options for visitors.
The local delegation to the General Assembly gave Savannah the authority to raise its local hotel/motel tax rate from its current 6% to 8%, effective in September. The additional monies are allocated in a formula that includes public development of tourism infrastructure, which makes the trail eligible for the funding. The Savannah City Council in May approved the awarding of the funds to the trail.
ABOUT THE YMCA OF COASTAL GEORGIA/HEALTHY SAVANNAH GRANT FOR RACIAL AND ETHNIC APPROACHES TO COMMUNITY HEALTH: In September 2018, Healthy Savannah and the YMCA of Coastal Georgia were awarded a five-year, $3.4 million grant called Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. Awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the funding is being deployed in an “upstream” approach by the Savannah/Chatham County project team to foster sustainable health equity among Black residents in low-wealth neighborhoods. The aim of the local project, called Healthy Opportunities Powering Equity, or HOPE, is to increase the availability of high-quality nutrition; promote physical activity through creating greater access to safe places to walk, run, bike and play; and foster stronger connections between people and the healthcare providers who serve them. Working with more than 200 community partners and organizations, the team is committed to elevating the health and wellness of the community through policy, systems, and environmental change.
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