An artist's rendering of the future Firefly Trail through Maxeys.
More than 300 donors helped the nonprofit Firefly Trail LLC exceed its goal of raising $61,385 for “model miles” in three small towns near Athens.
The 39-mile trail would run along an abandoned railroad from downtown Athens east to Winterville, then turn south through Oglethorpe and Greene counties. The portion from Dudley Park to Winterville Road, funded by SPLOST and a federal grant, is under construction; ACC officials plan to use funding from the upcoming T-SPLOST referendum to complete it out to Winterville.
From there, the Firefly Trail group is working with cities along the railroad to win grants to finish the trail, viewed by many as an economic development project along the lines of the Silver Comet Trail in western Georgia that would attract recreational cycling tourists.
$25,000 of the funds raised will go to Maxeys to match a $100,000 federal grant to build a mile of paved trail, along with an unpaved path for running, mountain biking and horseback riding. Union Point will receive $30,000 to match a $100,000 state grant for a portion of the trail running past the city’s STEAM academy, providing a safe route to school. The City of Winterville will use $5,000 to promote completion of the stretch of the trail from Old Winterville Road to the Oglethorpe County line.
Firefly Trail will hold a “thank you” party at the Terrapin brewery Thursday, June 15 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. It is open to the public.