Penny’s for Health: (Editor’s Note: The Laurens County Advertiser is taking a look at each of the 16 projects proposed to be funded by the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) in Laurens County. The 1-cent sales tax will be put to a referendum in the Nov. 3 General Election. The next proposed project is a proposed walking trail that will connect eventually with Greenville County’s Swamp Rabbit Trail.)
Among the county’s 16 needed projects which could be funded with the passage of the Capital Project Sales Tax referendum are those which take care of needed repairs and infrastructure projects, while others increase the quality of life for the people of Laurens County.
The preliminary work on a 1.8 mile trail has already been done by crews from the Laurens County Parks and Recreation Department, and Prisma Health has offered grants totaling $80,000. Those would be combined with the requested $300,000 to provide a 10-foot-wide paved trail as the first looped section of the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail here in Laurens County.
In addition to making the trail handicapped accessible, paving the trail would decrease the amount of maintenance by county staff, especially during the summer grass cutting season.
“Everyone is familiar with the Swamp Rabbit Trail that goes through the downtown area of Greenville and paving this trail would bring this first loop up to those standards,” said Bud Marchant, president of the Laurens County Trails Association and a member of the committee that presented the paving proposal.
The local Prisma Health Laurens County board of trustees has given preliminary approval for use of a portion of property behind the Laurens County Cancer Association building, which would tie it to the remainder of the trail which is almost exclusively on Laurens County property, according to Marchant.
People have been walking those quiet nearby roadways for years.
“We did a tally and there are nearly 800 employees that work in that area,” said Marchant. “There are groups of people who, for their own health concerns, get out and walk almost every day during their lunch hours, so there is already a potential for a great deal of use of this trail.”
Marchant and fellow steering committee member Jamie Adair represent the Laurens County Trails Association and Laurens County Parks and Recreation Department Director Andy Howard has provided the county’s perspective on the trail.
“Laurens County has already given permission to use this property and last winter we spent about three days clearing the wooded section of the trail. Most places that do this type of thing hire contractors, so this has already saved the county a lot,” Howard said. Crews used the county’s right-of-way equipment and is considered eligible for work-in-kind grant funds.
Part of the planned trail uses the low-traffic roads near and around the various medical office buildings, which further cuts down on the amount of paving.
The loop would begin and end near the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce office. It uses a short section of utility right of way before heading uphill into the wooded path cut by Howard’s crews. The vast majority of the land is already Laurens County property.
“People don’t realize how hilly it is back here,” Howard said, referring to the areas where the trail rises and falls. Wooded paths are short dis- tances from sunlit meadows.
In addition to the trail’s health benefits, Marchant said, cities, such as Travelers Rest where the first Swamp Rabbit Trail began with abandoned railways, show the economic potential of providing outdoor recreational options.
People accustomed to an active lifestyle are looking for new beauti- ful areas to explore, Marchant said, and are willing to leave their own counties to find them.
This trail section will need a parking area, and the plan is to eventually add restroom facilities and begin other trail sections.
This first Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail loop in Laurens County is the beginning of what the LCTA has long hoped could eventually connect Laurens County to the Greenville County leg of the Prisma
Health Swamp Rabbit Trail or to connect to the Palmetto Trail, which intersects the eastern corner of Laurens County.
“Those are long-range goals,” Marchant said. “What attracts people and businesses is quality of life and that includes places and activities to get people outside.
“The trails association understands a trail like this can bring people together and can bring people to our county,” Marchant said. “That may seem ‘pie in the sky’ but we have the potential in Laurens County to do this.”