The Police Memorial Trail is short, as trails go, just 0.6 miles. Savannah refurbished it over the spring and summer, adding a little height to give adjacent tree roots room to grow and resurfacing its entire length in concrete.
It doesn’t exactly connect anything yet, but it will, city officials promised as they ceremonially opened the trail Monday morning.
“Police Memorial trail completes the connection between the northern portion of the Truman Linear Park Trail and Bee Road. And ultimately, it will be a part of the Tide to Town trail network,” Mayor Van Johnson told a group of about 50 city employees and residents gathered at the trail head.
Chatham County opened the southern portion of the Truman Linear Park Trail a little more than a year ago. It runs from Lake Mayer to DeRenne Avenue. Its end point at DeRenne is about 1.4 miles from the southern end of the Police Memorial Trail near 52nd Street.
That gap is looking more likely to be bridged in the near future, Johnson said.
“And as you all know, council is considering allocating $4 million for the continuation of the Tide to Town in our 2022 budget,” he said. “And so I’m looking forward to our continued and expanded support of this initiative.”
An increased hotel “bed” tax, from the current 6% to a proposed 8%, is another potential source of funding to complete the trail. The tax hike would align Savannah with other Georgia cities.
“This council is also working actively to be able to improve and change our category in our bed tax at the state legislature,” Johnson said. “So we can put in $10 million to actually complete the doggone thing.”
Originally built by the county, Hurricane Matthew damaged the Police Memorial Trail in 2016. While it was posted as closed for the next five years, plenty of residents still used it to ride or walk in the meantime.
The trails are designed to undo some of the damage wrought by the road system, Alderman Nick Palumbo said.
“The streets, the highways, the byways, the flyovers, many of them were built to deliberately disconnect our neighborhoods,” he said. “The Tide to Town vision that we have for this community ties us all back together with one trail, one system, and one Savannah.”