The $435,000 project to complete the three-quarters of a mile section of the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail from the College Acres neighborhood to Eastwood Road through Autumn Hall will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m., at the Autumn Hall Pond.
During his State of the City Address, Mayor Bill Saffo said the entire 15-mile project, of which 12 miles have been completed, has been fully funded.
“When it’s complete, the 15-mile trail will have cost close to $9 million,” said Amy Beatty, project director. “And it’s important to recognize that over six million have been external dollars in the form of state and federal grants and corporate sponsorships.”
Property owners also donated all of the land acquired for the trail, with the Trask family donating the Autumn Hall portion.
The entire project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.
“We’re really excited about that from a council perspective, because when this thing was laid out many years ago by Gary Shell, we felt that it was going to be a very difficult project to complete because of the number of right-of-ways we would have to obtain, the amount of funding that was going to have to be generated to complete the trail; but here we are now five years later, and we’ve got the trail almost complete,” Saffo said.
He said the trail would also increase safety for cyclists, walkers and joggers in the community.
The trail is described by all involved as a collaborative effort in both planning and funding stages.
Marian Doherty, program specialist with the Wilmington community services department, said she thinks the number of trail users will jump, particularly by University of North Carolina Wilmington students, when the weather gets warmer.
“It really provides students and residents in that area with the opportunity to use their bike or walk as transportation,” she said. “In my mind, this is one of the most important pieces of the trail.”
Along with hearing remarks by officials involved at the ribbon cutting, a future funding project will be unveiled that will allow citizens to purchase non-possessory rights to coordinates of the trail for $25.