St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance gains tax-exempt status
The St Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance, formed earlier this year as a Florida nonprofit corporation to promote economic development along the 260-mile trail, has been awarded tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 public charity by the Internal Revenue Service.
The announcement was made by Alliance President Herb Hiller of DeLand. The Loop runs through Volusia County, where it connects with SunRail in DeBary, and through Brevard, Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties. Loop champion, Putnam County Commission Chair Chip Laibl said, “This is a wonderful status change and we are excited to be a part of this project.”
The Loop is one of two long-distance trails prioritized by FDOT for new SUN Trail funding that will help complete it. The trail is currently almost half in place – paved and off-road – or in some stage of funded review. Hiller said that he expects FDOT to announce its funding allocations in October for prioritized SUN Trails funding, for the Loop and its companion long distance trail the Coast-to-Coast Trail. The Loop and the Coast-to-Coast Trail overlap between DeBary and the Canaveral National Seashore.
“The Alliance will give communities along the trail a voice in how to capture its benefits. We’re already working with family farmers to brand the Palatka-to-St Augustine State Trail section of the Loop as an agritourism corridor.” Hiller said. “When FDOT investment plans are solidified along the Loop, we will start working with leadership along the way to explore locally resourceful development opportunities. Tax-exempt status will make it easier for the Alliance to work on these projects.
In addition to Hiller, board members include retired Systems Engineering/Program Management Consultant Maggie Ardito, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Associate Professor Dr. Jason Aufdenberg, 27-year veteran of trails development in northeast Florida Kraig McLane, and chair of the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce Bike & Trails Committee Ted Wendler. Hiller said “We plan to expand the Alliance board to all five counties.”
The Alliance website is www.sjr2c.org.
26 September 2016
Herbert Lewis Hiller