Supporters of the biking and walking Spanish Moss Trail seek $250,000 in community donations so the converted railroad path can be extended from Port Royal to the area near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
A total of $4,325,000 has been raised for the first 5.4 miles, part of which has been built, through donations, grants and municipal subsidies.
The trail is being built on the former Magnolia rail line and one day could stretch from the Port of Port Royal to beyond the Whale Branch River. It is being developed as a partnership that includes the county, the city of Beaufort, the Friends of the Spanish Moss Rail Trail and the Atlanta-based PATH Foundation.
The first mile, between Depot and Allison roads, was completed in fall 2012. The PATH Foundation is building 2.3 miles between Ribaut and Allison roads. A grand opening is planned for around Thanksgiving.
Beaufort County continues to engineer the 2.1 miles between Depot Road and Parris Island Gateway, according to Beaufort County Director of Planning and Development Anthony Criscitiello. The county phase is moving slower, in part, because of complications with the trestles the path will cross.
That hasn't stopped the Friends from proceeding with plans for the next 1.6 miles, which would take the 12-foot-wide concrete path to Laurel Bay Road.
The James M. Cox Foundation -- which has already given more than $1.2 million -- has offered another challenge grant of $350,000, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation has offered a $250,000 challenge grant in honor of its former board member John M. Trask Jr., according to the Friends.
Dean Moss, executive director of the Friends group, said the final $250,000 will come from fundraising.
"We're going to do that by, in short, asking people for money," he said. "It's the simplest way I can say it."
Donations between $1,000 and $9,999 will be recognized with plaques on the Beaufort Depot. Donors who give more than $10,000 will become members of the Albergotti Trestle Collaborative and recognized on a plaque at the trestle.
"I feel confident that the community wants this thing to happen and there are a lot of people out there who have expressed an interest, told me they wanted to give, donate," Moss said. "We have not, up to this point, had a real simple way to donate, and now we do."
Besides personal visits to businesses and potential donors, trail supporters will figuratively "pass the hat" to collect smaller donations through mass-mailings, speaking at events and other collection methods.
Once donations and pledges are in hand, the construction can begin, Moss said.
If you donateDonations to the 501(c)3 Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail can be made by check to P.O. Box 401, Beaufort, SC 29901 or online at spanishmosstrail.com.
Documents: Segment 6 Fact sheet and brochureSpanish Moss Trail segment 6 fact sheet Spanish Moss Trail segment 6 brochure Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
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