Paving a 501(c)(3) path
Jun 24, 2013 | 279 views | 0 0 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When pondering future opportunities for growing the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway and for enhancing the “experience” in using the winding linear park, it’s this simple: the sky’s the limit.

And that limit will be getting even loftier, figuratively speaking.

We refer to a recent decision by the Greenway board to establish the facility as a legal nonprofit and to complete the necessary legal paperwork that will grant it tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) entity.

Once the Greenway and its board become a 501(c)(3), it will open the gates to what is hoped will be a flood of donors — businesses, companies, individuals and other organizations — who can benefit from tax allowances given on such contributions. In some cases, certain donors have already stepped forward with an interest in contributing, but are not allowed to do so by company guidelines that restrict such donations to nonprofits only.

Cameron Fisher, longtime chairman of the Greenway board who has given his heart to this worthwhile community cause over the years, said it best when he told our newspaper, “We are at a place in the life of the Greenway where we will be pursuing more donations and gifts to increase the quality of the Greenway experience.”

As we mentioned in last Thursday’s edition, this is appropriate because — at least until sagging budgets get a fiscal facelift — local, state and federal governments must closely prioritize spending. In its early years of development, the four-mile Greenway benefited from various grants that paved the way for five phases of development.

Such luxury, though not altogether nonexistent, is far more competitive. The competition is compounded by more and more communities vying for the same government dollars because they too want to provide recreation — and improved health — for their own residents.

This points to the need for local organizations like the Greenway board to solicit support from donors like companies, industries, civic clubs and other groups, and doing it through the convenience of tax breaks.

It’s good for the donors.

It’s good for the cause.

It’s great for the community.

Once the Greenway attains its 501(c)(3) status, donors have a variety of opportunities to enhance the “Greenway Experience.” Just a few, as listed by Fisher, include:

1. Message boards where users can get community information.

2. Dog parks where pets can be let off their leashes and allowed to run free for a few minutes before finishing their walks with their owners.

3. Public art which is now in the hands of the Greenway Public Art Committee volunteers.

4. Outdoor gyms which are a relatively new concept featuring fitness equipment outdoors for free public use.

5. Distance markers which can mark mileage up and down the Greenway.

6. Picnic tables to be located in existing, or new, areas.

7. An event stage to host family outings, events or even small, impromptu concerts.

8. Restrooms, which are among the most requested amenities; currently, the Greenway has two.

9. Picnic shelters similar to the one at Tinsley Park.

Certainly, other ideas exist. Potential donors might have suggestions of their own. The point is, any and all ideas will be considered. Perhaps some are not as practical, or needed, as others. But the Greenway board will gladly accept all suggestions.

Ideas, questions or donor offers may be emailed to info@cbcgreenway.com, or they may be given to Fisher or any Greenway board member in person.

It’s an exciting time for our community’s linear park.

Once the Greenway becomes a legal 501(c)(3) with tax-exempt status, those times will get even more exciting.

We urge hometown support.

And we encourage community use.

As those marketers behind Nike might suggest, thousands already Just Do It. But there’s always room for more.