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Springfield Ebenezer Greenway Initiative

As a Georgia Scenic River and National Natural Landmark, Ebenezer Creek is both a natural and cultural asset to the state of Georgia. A tributary that feeds into the Savannah River just north of the Savannah, the creek flows from northern Effingham County through Springfield and then approximately thirteen more miles to the Savannah River, terminating at the historic settlement of Ebenezer. Springfield’s Community Development Director, Erin Phillips, says that the city’s new initiative, the Springfield Ebenezer Greenway, hopes to establish a connection between the two historic communities, thus promoting recreational use for the creek while preserving its historical significance for future generations. “Springfield is the county seat, and Ebenezer once served as the county seat and briefly as the Georgia State Capital. The two are connected via the Ebenezer Creek; therefore, the historical connections between Springfield and Ebenezer seemed to make perfect sense,” says Phillips.

One component of this initiative will include the development of a new website to promote natural, cultural and historical tourism along the greenway. The content for this site www.EbenezerCreek.com will provide information about launch points, guided tours, equipment rentals, historical significance and events, ecological facts, wildlife and landmarks that can be found on and adjacent to the creek. The website will be a critical tool to help increase local interest and awareness about the creek, which will be important in fostering and expanding local economic development opportunities. It will also help promote use of the creek to recreational users and tourists and will include professional photography and verified historical data. The city has used a professional design studio to develop new branding and collateral to use on the website. “This new website will be a hub of information regarding Ebenezer Creek and its surrounding ecology and history,” says Phillips. “It will also partner with a mobile self-guided tour app that visitors can download and use to explore the vast resources Ebenezer Creek has to offer. The new logo for the greenway will not only be used on the site, but will also be used as markers on the creek and in signage at launch points along the creek.”  The city has made significant investments around Jack’s Branch, a tributary to Ebenezer Creek, where the Effingham Historical Society’s Living History Site and Museum are located. In addition, the city has developed a plan for property that it currently owns at the corner of Stillwell Road and Ash St. that also borders Ebenezer Creek and can serve as another public area of the greenway.

As mentioned, one of the newest components of the project is the creation of a mobile app which will contain a georeferenced guide that will identify areas of interest, wildlife, significant landmarks, as well as historical events that took place along the creek. “We will consult with local tour guides and archaeologists who have been working on and around the creek to create a multifaceted guide that will appeal to tourists of all interests from history buffs to bird watchers,” says Phillips.

By closely relating Ebenezer Creek to Springfield, Phillips sees tremendous opportunity to increase interest and activity in the downtown area. “We envision Ebenezer Creek as a major  attraction to draw people to our community, thus increasing the demand for amenities of arts, dining and lodging to our visitors. Increasing awareness and the number of visitors to the creek will help Springfield enhance the Ebenezer Creek Greenway Project and help the community to promote conservation efforts at the historic sites along the creek.”

Springfield has a history of finding new and unique ways to promote tourism and business growth.  In 2014, the City took over the renovation of the Mars Theatre, a 1950’s one screen theatre that had been deserted for decades. The theatre has since been immensely successful and has attracted tourists and residents from Savannah, as well as providing entertainment to local citizens. Springfield has also used DOT grant funding to create new downtown streetscapes, which has increased overall business and foot traffic downtown. Effingham County is only fifteen miles from downtown Savannah, an international tourist destination, and Springfield hopes to capitalize on its proximity to Savannah to boost tourism opportunities in our area. Phillips says that the establishment and promotion of the Springfield Ebenezer Creek Greenway will also promote conservation and stewardship of this ecologically and historically-rich area.  To find out more about this initiative, contact Erin Phillips at (912) 754-7617 or via email at ephillips@springfieldga.org

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