BeltLine Partnership asking for public donations to light the trail

By Maria Saporta

The Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail attracts about one million users a year.

Now the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership is asking them to help light the way.

Chuck Meadows, executive director of the Partnership, announced a $1.1 million “crowd-funding campaign” to “Light the Line.”

The campaign would cover the costs for 110 light fixtures that would be placed about every 90 feet along the trail from the Krog Street Market to Piedmont Park at 10th and Monroe Drive, according to Lee Harrop, program director of Atlanta BeltLine Inc.

The campaign was announced on Monday evening at the Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall that overlooks the Eastside Trail at mile marker 9.25.

BeltLine fundraising

Ponce City Market’s Matt Bronfman and Atlanta BeltLine Partnership’s Chuck Meadows at “Light the Line” campaign announcement (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Originally, BeltLine leaders said the trail would be open to the public from sun-up to sun-down. But Meadows said the BeltLine has been so popular that people have been using the trail in the early morning hours and after nightfall.

The lights – designed for pedestrian corridors – would be more inviting for people who want to use the trail when it’s not daylight.

Harrop also said that the lights would have motion sensors where they would become brighter as people would go by. “It’s pretty state of the art,” he said.

“We have a very safe environment, and we have had very limited instances of misfeasance,” Meadows said. “It is not a problem we are trying to solve. It’s just an added comfort for people who are using the trail.”

The goal is to raise $1.1 million by April 30th, and people are being asked to contribute any amount they can afford. A website has been set up to receive donations at lighttheline.com.

A special guest at the announcement was Matt Bronfman, CEO of Jamestown, the developer of Ponce City Market, which is right on the BeltLine.

Bronfman said Jamestown has been supportive of the BeltLine making it one of its major entrances – encouraging people to visit Ponce City by bicycle or on foot.

That’s one reason why Ponce City Market started charging for parking at the complex, something that Bronfman said had drawn some criticism.

“We are using pay parking proceeds to donate $100,000 to the lighting of the BeltLine,” Bronfman said.

BeltLine lights

An illustration of how the lights would look on the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail (Special: Light the Line website)

Harrop said that BeltLine will be using the same fixtures that will be placed on the Eastside Trail on other portions of the corridor, such as the Westside.

Up until now, the BeltLine Partnership has focused most of its fundraising on major donations from foundations, corporations and wealthier individuals. Now the crowd-funding approach will be a way for people who use the BeltLine on a regular basis can invest in the corridor.

“We will look forward to implementing this approach to other sections of the BeltLine,” Meadows said.

Also, restaurants along the BeltLine will include postcards about the campaign with people’s dinner checks.

To purchase and install the lights, Meadows said it would cost a total of $990,000. It also is spending about $10,000 on campaign materials, and the last $100,000 will go towards programming cultural events along the corridor.

Once the $1.1 million has been raised, Meadows said it would take about six months to get the lights installed, and he hopes the lights will be shining by the end of this year.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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