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Evelyn Andrews Posted by on November 14, 2017.

South Fork Conservancy raises over $2M for trail connections

The South Fork Conservancy says it has surpassed its $2 million goal in its first capital campaign to connect multi-use trails in DeKalb County, Buckhead and Brookhaven. The funds will be used to build several projects in the Buckhead area that will connect already completed trails.

The conservancy is a nonprofit that creates trails along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek, which runs between Buckhead and Emory University.

This map shows the six projects the South Fork Conservancy plans to fund with money raised in its first capital campaign. (South Fork Conservancy)

The conservancy plans to link the trails with PATH400, which has already been completed near Peachtree Creek. It also plans to connect to the Atlanta BeltLine and Brookhaven’s planned Peachtree Creek Greenway. Officials plan to break ground on the first mile of the Greenway early next year. Construction on the section of the BeltLine that will eventually connect to the conservancy’s trails has not begun.

The campaign will fund six projects in the Buckhead area that will provide connections between already completed trails, including a new bridge, crosswalk and two new trailheads. Some of the projects, including the Confluence Trail Bridge and Creek Walk Connector, already are under construction.

“We hit the ground running and didn’t wait for the capital campaign for some of them,” said Kimberly Estep, executive director of the conservancy. “We wanted to get them ready for public use as soon as we could.”

The conservancy’s long-term plan is to create trails along all 33 miles of the South Fork. The first phase of the plan is to create a trail system that connects Buckhead to the Emory campus. The conservancy already has opened three trails in Buckhead including The Confluence, Cheshire Farm and Meadow Loop, which are all near I-85 and Ga. 400.

The campaign has raised $2,041,000 so far and funds still are being received, according to a press release. The largest donations included a $500,000 gift from the Kendeda Fund, a local foundation, and a $250,000 grant from Park Pride, according to the release.

“Foundations, businesses, and our local community have all enthusiastically joined us and we are deeply grateful for their generosity,” Joni Winston, the campaign’s co-chair, said in the release. “Their support shows a powerful connection to our mission of creating an urban oasis along Peachtree Creek.”

The conservancy expected to wrap up the capital campaign early next year, but received enough donations to finish it earlier, Estep said.

Funds raised in the capital campaign are planned to be used for six projects.

The largest project, expected to use $950,000 of the funds, is the Confluence Bridge, which is being built over Peachtree Creek and would serve as a hub allowing people to connect to PATH400, the BeltLine and Buckhead sidewalks from the South Fork trails, Estep said.

The bridge is being built over the creek near the southern end of Adina Drive and I-85. Construction on the bridge has already begun and is projected to be completed by the end of 2018, Estep said. TSPLOST revenues also were used for the bridge, she said.

“The bridge is in an area where there are not a lot of green space or parks. By creating this bridge we are allowing people to access miles of green space,” Estep said.

The second project is the Confluence Bridge Trailhead, which would be the entrance to the intersection of three trails: the Confluence Trail; the PATH400/Atlanta BeltLine Connector Trail; and the Meadow Loop Trail. Work will include adding interpretative signage.

For more information, visit southforkconservancy.org.

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