July 16, 2008

Help Plan Thread Trail

If plans for the Carolina Thread Trail are to succeed, they will need the full support of the public. Fortunately, planners have taken great pains to ensure that the public has ample opportunity to help shape this massive regional trail.

York County in South Carolina and Gaston County in North Carolina currently are the focal points in designing the trail. Gaston's trail will lead from Lincoln County, N.C., in the north to York County in the south.

Eventually, the trail will consist of pieces fit together to connect 15 counties. The route will include prominent towns, regional attractions and natural landmarks along what has been described as a "green interstate."

The input from York County residents is likely to play a key role in how the trail evolves. Residents offered their opinions at a series of public hearings held in Fort Mill, Clover, Rock Hill and York in April.

A new series of four meetings - called "open houses" - begins today, 5 to 8 p.m., at Manchester Meadows soccer complex, 337 E. Mount Gallant Road. Subsequent meetings will be held Thursday in Dallas, N.C.; Monday in Belmont, N.C.; and Tuesday at the McCelvey Center in York.

Those who attend can see all the suggested routes of the trail, along with the preferred one, on conceptual maps. Staff members will be available at several stations to answer questions and take more suggestions from the public.

So far, organizers have raised about $17 million in private donations that will be divided among the counties, which can use the money to leverage more funding from state and federal grants. Both York and Gaston counties received $50,000 to jump start the planning.

These two counties are at the forefront of this ambitious project, which gives residents a unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor and help determine how the trail will be developed. The first leg of the trail in York County is likely to serve as a model for the rest of the state.

While this project could take 10 to 20 years to complete, many legs of the trail should be in use long before that. In short, parts of the project that local residents help to guide during these public meetings could come to fruition in the near future.

If you want to be a part of building the green interstate, be sure to attend tonight's meeting or the one in York on Tuesday.

(c) 2008 Herald; Rock Hill, S.C.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.