January 2011

In This Issue...

National News

  • Greetings from the Director
  • National Park Service support for ECG partners
  • 2011 Hike the Hill and National Bike Summit: ECGA can help you attend!

Regional News: Southeast

  • Florida report
  • Georgia report

Regional News: South Atlantic

  • Spotlight: West Ashley Greenway

Regional News: Mid Atlantic

  • Maryland Bicycle Symposium
  • Cross-Jersey Walking Challenge
  • Third Annual Westchester County (NY) Bike Summit
  • Pennsylvania ECG Committee meeting

Regional News: New England

  • Southeastern Mass. trails meeting
  • Some route changes

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ECG News Online is a publication of the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

Dennis Markatos-Soriano: Executive Director

Kitty Carter: Office Manager/Membership Coordinator/Bookkeeper

Herb Hiller: Southeast Region Consultant

Mike Oliva: Mid-Atlantic Regional Trail Coordinator

Eric Weis: Trail Program Coordinator

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National ECGA News

Greetings from the Director

Greenway New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year ECGA teammates!

In this season of New Year's Resolutions, I'd like to share some of what our organization is committed to achieving in 2011.

As long as we work together - in concert with our local, state, and federal allies - we can celebrate the following in one year's time:
1. More than 10% growth in our miles of designated greenway (at least 60 miles)
2. Growing our membership and volunteer base to more than 10,000 people from Maine-Florida
3. More than 15% growth in our miles of signed ECG route (at least 45 miles)
4. Step up our outreach so that the American public is aware of our emerging national treasure
Achieving these milestones would be another giant leap toward a safe and accessible 2,900-mile route between Canada and Key West.

Here's to an amazing 2011!

Dennis Markatos-Soriano

Photo by Steve Rosenbaum

National Park Service: Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance

ECGA offers its congratulations to the following ECG-related projects, which have earned technical support from the RTCA program:

  • Virginia: Spotsylvania Greenways Initiative and James River Heritage Trail
  • New Jersey: Newark Riverfront Trail
  • North Carolina: West Pender Rail-Trail
  • You can learn more about the RTCA program and see the full national list of projects it supports at this web page.

    2011 National Conferences & ECG presence

    The American Hiking Society and the League of American Bicyclists have announced the dates for their annual conferences, and the East Coast Greenway Alliance can help you attend! We're planning to have a strong presence at both Hike the Hill (Feb 12-17) and the National Bike Summit (March 8-10); both conferences are in Washington, DC. We are seeking representatives from certain states to carry the ECG flag. If you're from ME, NH, MA, CT, PA, DE, MD, DC, VA, SC, or GA, and you'd like to be an ECG rep, we may be able to subsidize your registration fee! Interested? Contact our Executive Director, Dennis Markatos-Soriano.

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    Regional News: Southeast

    Florida Report

    by Herb Hiller

    Although our own Alliance efforts proceed very well, the climate for trails right now is mixed in Florida. The Legislature could strip most of the Office of Greenways and Trails staff and merge the remaining few in Recreation and Parks. So far, advocacy has twice beaten back this annual threat. OGT Director Jena Brooks resigned earlier this month with no replacement. Assistant Director Jim Wood is temporarily filling in.

    Meanwhile, President Dale Allen of the Greenways & Trails Foundation has successfully recruited several new board members. Of necessity and good planning, the Foundation will become more influential in Florida trail affairs regardless of the fortunes of OGT.

    Our Florida ECGA office has worked effectively and closely with OGT and will continue to do so. I serve as Foundation vice-president.

    Our own affairs proceed well. Martin and Palm Beach counties later this month plan fall meetings of the ECGA Trail Council and board in Stuart and in Jupiter. The long preparation time virtually ensures that good member and public interactions will supplement official business. Later this winter or spring I will be in Miami-Dade when Green Mobility Network confirms the installation of many signs along the M-Path, which channels our route.

    February 18th, Volusia County will host the 3rd Annual Partners Meeting for the St. John River-to-Sea Loop at DeBary Hall that includes four counties of our spine route and another of alternate. I'm optimistic that 2011 and 2012 will great leap-forward years for this project that promises great ecotourism advances for the five-county region. Volusia County Council Member Pat Northey is organizing the event. Pat also newly chairs the 12-county St. Johns River Alliance that could become the managing entity for the Loop. Much more to come.

    We are working with Sprinkle Consultants of Tampa Bay on aspects of its bicycling plan for the City of St. Augustine. Our route through St. Johns County will be mapped in.

    I'm also happy to report my volunteer engagement with a group at work on the 500th anniversary of Spain in Florida - which is to say, of Europe in America - that occurs in 2013. Our partners in this activity include the Florida Wildflower Foundation, which in 2008 helped launch the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop with an indispensable $10,000 grant. It was wildflowers that gave la florida - Florida - its name.

    Let me also note that I will be in Tallahassee most of this week for meetings of the St. Johns River Alliance (on whose board I sit) and of Visit Florida. Come next month I will report on results from the first four months of www.visitflorida.com/trails, our state's pace-setting website for trail vacationing.

    Coastal Georgia Greenway 2010 Summary

    by Jo Hickson

    2010 saw organizational development, however in February, the Coastal Georgia Greenway, Inc. and the Coastal Regional Commission learned that their $19.6 million TIGER grant was not awarded: it would have completed 63 miles of trail in 4 counties. With the help of Benjie Morillo, a Savannah College of Art and Design architecture graduate, Jo Hickson completed the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation Grant producing brochures, a portable display and three-year action plan booklet. The trail concept plan from South Carolina to Richmond Hill was also completed. Currently Jo is writing grants to fund work identified in the Action Plan. As the economy in Savannah is improving at a faster rate than the rest of Georgia, she is hopeful that funding efforts will bear fruit and work on organizational capacity building and new trail development will proceed. She and the board of directors look forward to working with Herb Hiller, SE coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, as both the Florida and Georgia trail supporters will sponsor the second Savannah-Northeast Florida Workshop on Wheels (SNF-WOW2), to be held early in 2012.

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    Regional News: South Atlantic

    Charleston (SC) Wins Award for West Ashley Greenway

    by Vonie Gilreath

    American Trails recently awarded the City of Charleston the Trail Advocacy award for the State of South Carolina. This recognition is given to an individual or organization in each state that has demonstrated successful efforts to influence public policy relating to trail planning, trail protection, trail development, or maintenance.

    The city's award was a result of the community's ongoing partnership efforts to improve the West Ashley Greenway. Led by Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, adjacent greenway neighborhoods and other partners coordinated to improve the greenway over several years through projects, programs and funding efforts. The partners to date have included the local neighborhoods, Charleston Water Systems, Kimco Realty, MUSC, the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, the Citadel, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Charleston County, Federal Express, the Friends of the West Ashley Greenway and Urban Edge Studios.

    One of the recent biggest steps forward in the planning process came in 2009 when Kimco Realty donated funds for Deputy Director of Parks Operations Matt Compton and urban edge studios to complete a master plan for the design of the greenway. Consultant Bill Eubanks noted that "Facilitating the charrette and master planning process for the West Ashley Greenway was a privilege as the Greenway is very important to the City of Charleston and particularly to residents of the West Ashley area because it not only provides a place for recreation and exercise but also provides an alternative to the automobile."

    The master plan was followed by Charleston City Council approval of a citywide bond of which over $400,000 is allocated for surfacing and other road crossing improvement. The complete plan will take several years and cost over $4 million. To date, nearly $1 million in surfacing, sidewalk, and other improvement has been spent, allocated to, is under construction or is awaiting design. In addition to surfacing, the West Ashley Greenway has completed two neighborhood sidewalk connections funded by Charleston County, had flashing lights funded through MUSC by Federal Express, and begun the Three Pipe Bridge replacement funded with Recreational Trails funds.

    To view the West Ashley Greenway Plan, go to http://www.charlestoncity.info/dept/content.aspx?nid=1339&cid=14059.

    Information on the National Trails Advocacy Award winners may be located at http://www.americantrails.org/awards/NTS10awards/advocate10.html

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    Regional News: Mid Atlantic

    Maryland Bicycle Symposium

    The Maryland Bicycle Symposium will take place Tuesday, February 22, 2011 from 9 am to 4 pm in Annapolis. Hosted by Bike Maryland, the Symposium will bring together advocates, industry leaders, on and off-road recreational cyclists and commuters, elected officials and staff from the Tri-State Region.

    You won't want to miss this event! The purpose of the Symposium is to educate and empower advocates and attendees, identify common issues in our local communities, set priorities for improving the future of bicycling in Maryland, and demonstrate the economic impact of our state's bicycling community. Go to this link to sign up: http://bikemd.org/page.php?id=375

    The Cross-Jersey Walking Challenge

    by Paul Kiczek

    The FreeWalkers, a long distance walking network, is partnering with the East Coast Greenway Alliance in a program that utilizes the entire length of the ECG in New Jersey. The program provides an opportunity and incentive for individuals to experience the diversity, personal challenge and fun of crossing the entire state by foot. Interested individuals simply have to walk the entire distance within the next 12 months and record their efforts on the website www.crossjerseywalk.org. To help facilitate their efforts, we're coordinating 3 FreeWalker distance walks that in total cover the entire length (about 100 miles). The first event will be the Great Canal Walk - April 9, 2011 - a one-day 40-mile walk from Trenton to New Brunswick along the D&R Canal: http://www.tr2nb40.org/

    Participants relax at Newark Penn Station after the May 2010 50-mile walk in NJ

    Third Annual Westchester County Bike Summit

    The Westchester Community Foundation recently awarded the East Coast Greenway a grant to host the Third Annual Westchester County Bike Summit which will bring advocates, government officials and the general public together to discuss how to make cycling and walking safer in the County and how to advance the ECG route. The Summit will be held in May in the City of New Rochelle. To keep updated on the details go to http://www.bwawp.org.

    Pennsylvania ECG Committee Meeting: Jan. 28

    The next meeting of the Pennsylvania ECG Committee will be on Friday, January 28th, at 10:30 am at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia PA 19106). The committee meets once every two months and is one of the strongest ECG state committees. We encourage you to attend and get involved with ECG progress, events and other activities in Pennsylvania. Contact Andy Hamilton, ECG PA Committee Chair with any questions or ideas of how you can help, at andy@cvda.com.

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    Regional News: New England

    Massachusetts: South Coast Regional bikeway Summit

    From our friends at SRPEDD:

    "Join the discussion about people connecting our South Coast communities through a Regional Bikeway. With oil prices rising and health concerns mounting a voice is growing in the South Coast--calling for healthy, safe, and sustainable alternative modes of transportation. Join us for a presentation of the South Coast Regional Bikeway vision. Learn what other communities have achieved; and what the South Coast is and can be doing to expand bikeways in the region.

    "This summit is for elected officials, appointed officials, government workers, community activists and individuals who want to hear success stories, share best practices, and help move bikeways in the South Coast forward."

    This planning will impact the ECG's long-dormant alternate route connecting Boston and Providence, dubbed the "Old Colony route." Some meeting specifics can be found here.

    Image courtesy Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District

    Some route changes in New England

    Our crack team has identified a few spots in New England where the ECG route can be better. Changes in Yarmouth, Maine take users off busy roads and onto scenic Beth Condon Memorial Pathway. Our cue sheets will soon be tweaked in Providence to reflect new trail construction there. We expect to soon make small changes to the cue sheets in the New Haven area as well, as well as in Manchester CT, east of Hartford. While all of these changes are minor in terms of distance, they will make for a better touring experience for ECG users. We thank all of our volunteers for helping to track construction, identifying better on-road routing, and assisting with mapping and cue sheet writing. This volunteer work is creating [warning: editorial comment ahead] the best, most interesting route for sustainable travel found in the world.

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    ECG News Online is a publication of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, a national not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting the establishment, preservation, sound management, and safe use and enjoyment of the East Coast Greenway, a 3000-mile, continuous route linking seaboard cities and towns from Maine to Florida. It aims to be 100% traffic-free.

    ~ Support the Greenway by becoming a member of the ECGA or sponsoring a mile of trail today.

    ~ Get Involved! Volunteer, write a letter, help spread the word...learn about all the ways you can help create the ECG.

    ~ Comments? Suggestions? News? Contact the ECGA at info@greenway.org.

    ~ Learn more about the East Coast Greenway by visiting our website, or call us at (401) 789-4625.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Copyright 2011 East Coast Greenway Alliance