Atlanta BeltLine part of national rails-to-trails movement to spur economic development, healthy lifestyles and alternative transportation options
ATLANTA, May 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The James M. Cox Foundation announced a $5 million grant to develop the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail. The Atlanta BeltLine is one of the nation’s largest urban redevelopment programs that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a 22-mile railroad corridor that encircles the City of Atlanta. Upon completion, the BeltLine will connect 45 intown neighborhoods.
The Westside Trail, a three-mile path in the BeltLine’s southwest corridor, will connect four schools and four parks. Hundreds of native trees will line the trail, which will create 40 acres of new greenspace to be used by area residents and visitors. A TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will cover 42 percent of the project cost. The $5 million grant from the Cox Foundation will go toward a campaign currently underway to raise the additional funds needed to complete the project.
“Across the nation, cities are promoting healthy lifestyles through public access to parks and trails, while also stimulating economic development. The Atlanta BeltLine is one of the nation’s best examples of what can happen when public and private sectors work together,” said Cox Enterprises Chairman Jim Kennedy. “I served as co-chair of the BeltLine’s original capital campaign and am thrilled to see this visionary project come to life. The BeltLine’s completed segments are transforming neighborhoods and connecting people with nature. This grant will help the BeltLine build another important segment on its journey to completion.”
The BeltLine has completed the Eastside Trail, Northside Trail, Southwest Connector Trail and the West End Trail. The completed trails are home to local art installations, outdoor recreational groups and neighborhood festivals. The BeltLine recently received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Overall Excellence Award for Smart Growth Achievement. The award is given for creative, sustainable initiatives that help protect the health and the environment of our communities while also strengthening local economies. The Overall Excellence Award is the highest national honor bestowed by the EPA.
“Jim Kennedy was among the early believers who have helped the Atlanta BeltLine begin to transform our city,” says Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Board of Directors Chair Charlie Shufeldt. “This latest investment will once again inspire other private donors, both new and returning.”
This contribution joins previous grants totaling $7.5 million from the James M. Cox Foundation and Sarah and Jim Kennedy to support the BeltLine. As part of his commitment to conservation, Kennedy launched Cox Enterprises’ national sustainability program, Cox Conserves, in 2007. Since that time, the company and its affiliated foundations have invested more than $100 million in sustainability and conservation through operations projects and grants to support environmental nonprofits. Cox’s national environmental partners are American Rivers, Ocean Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land. Cox partners with local environmental nonprofits in the communities it serves across the nation.
About The James M. Cox Foundation
The James M. Cox Foundation is named in honor of Cox Enterprises’ founder and provides funding for capital campaigns and special projects in communities where the company operates. James M. Cox was Ohio’s first three-term governor and the 1920 Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
The Foundation concentrates its community support in several areas, including: conservation and environment; early childhood education; empowering families and individuals for success; and health.
About the Atlanta BeltLine
The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) is the entity tasked with planning and executing the implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine in partnership with other public and private organizations, including City of Atlanta departments. For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine, please visit www.BeltLine.org.
About the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership
The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABLP) is a non-profit organization committed to raising funds from private and philanthropic sources to support the Atlanta BeltLine, working with the community and partners to raise general awareness and support, and serving as a catalyst to mobilize resources to achieve the positive social impacts of the Atlanta BeltLine vision. For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine, please visit www.BeltLine.org.
SOURCE The James M. Cox Foundation
2 thoughts on this article. Join the discussion below
As a long time resident of Atlanta, I am thrilled that the city has a vision for a trail that will provide a new and active way for people to experience the city. I am also an avid biker and always looking for trails. So, I was very excited when I read that a $5 million grant was awarded to help complete the project, since only a few miles are completed thus far. However, I was dismayed when I read further and learned that the funds will be used to fund a fund-raising campaign. I would like to appeal to the partnership to find a less costly way to fundraise, and maybe complete the project sooner for residents eager to use the trail. I believe many citizens of Atlanta might be willing to volunteer some time to help fundraise. And, social media avenues, such as Facebook provide another great and free opportunity to fundraise. Finally, I imagine that many locally based corporations would welcome a simple and low cost meeting with a partnership representative to learn about how they can play a part in making the trail possible, and gain recognition in the process. In sum, I would love to see the $5 million grant be used directly to help fund trail completion.