ESMMYC Advocacy for Environmental Change – Why is a neighborhood trail to nearby schools so hard to get?

Fort Mill, SC (Jan. 15, 2020) Why does Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) support “policy, system and environmental change” to make the healthy choice the easy choice? Because those changes last. Instituting a healthy policy (e.g., only healthy foods may be served in the office vending machine), system (e.g., a farm-to-school program), and/or change to the physical environment (e.g., sidewalk or walking path) – these are for the long term. Yes, ESMMYC advocates for sustainable change to make active living and healthy eating essential to the everyday culture in which we live, work, learn, pray, and play.

In 2018, Habersham neighborhood residents contacted ESMMYC for help as they pursued a walking trail to their local Fort Mill School District schools (Pleasant Knoll Elementary and Pleasant Knoll Middle). ESMMYC and the Bike/Ped Coalition of York County have given advice and facilitated connections, but no progress has been made.

Here is ESMMYC’s November 2019 letter to the Habersham developer in support of the neighborhood trail to the schools (the developer response follows). We regret that the developer has not offered progress in the near term, but we remain supportive and hopeful. Meantime, kids will continue to ride in cars and buses to the schools which are adjacent to their neighborhood, yet inaccessible on foot.

Eat Smart Move More York County c/o Elizabeth Duda [address deleted]

Mr. C. Cooper Willis ABI Pleasant Road Land Corporations [address deleted]

November 5, 2019

Dear Mr. Willis:

We are contacting you in your capacity as administrator of ABI Pleasant Road Land LLCs. This is in reference to a letter to you from Habersham residents dated September 15, 2017, in which they request your support for building a walking path between the Habersham neighborhood and the Pleasant Knoll middle and elementary schools

As the local coalition of nonprofit Eat Smart Move More South Carolina, Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) strives to make the healthy choice the easy choice in York County. As such, we strongly support the establishment of a walking path between the Pleasant Knoll schools and the Habersham neighborhood and ask for your action to support it. This path is important for many reasons. Since the built environment has a significant impact on health, many S.C. communities are making environmental changes that improve access to a safe place to be physically active. This neighborhood path could provide safe, healthful access to school for approximately 150 students. Providing safe places to walk helps prevent traffic fatalities, important in S.C. which has the 5th highest bike and pedestrian fatality rate in the U.S. This path ultimately would reduce traffic on Pleasant Road and benefit approximately 190 Habersham neighborhood families. Property values typically increase following pedestrian-friendly investments.

The Habersham residents’ letter noted that the distance between their neighborhood and the elementary school was less than half a mile. They asked you to donate a 12-foot wide section of ABI Pleasant Road Land-owned land for the half mile which would allow for path building and upkeep. They noted the path would comply with Duke Energy easement regulations and fall in line with your plan to connect your proposed developments with the schools and other walkable spaces. They provided the accompanying map for your reference.

Please let us know how ESMMYC can facilitate this community’s effort to create a pedestrian-friendly community. We would appreciate your support for this trail and look forward to your response.


Elizabeth (Liz) W. Duda Chair, ESMMYC

David F. Keely, M.D. Chair, ESMMYC Advocacy Committee

Enclosures: 09/15/2017 Habersham grassroots neighborhood letter to Pleasant Road LLC; proposed trail map Habersham to PKES-PKMS 2017

CC: Mr. Chad Allen, Principal, Pleasant Knoll Elementary School; Mr. Mallie Colavita, Forestar Development; Ms. Lindsay Dillon, PE Teacher, Pleasant Knoll Elementary School; Mr. David Hudspeth, Planning and Park Services Director, York County; Ms. Penelope Karagounis, Planning Director, Town of Fort Mill; Mr. Tommy Schmolze, Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Student Services, Fort Mill School District; Mr. Grey Young, Principal

And the Habersham developer’s disappointing response…but we will continue our advocacy as we try to help this community make the healthy choice the easy choice.

November 6, 2019

Liz, thank you for the email.  I hope to be able to work with the Habersham neighborhood at some point in the future to allow for connectivity.  Unfortunately, at this time, it is premature to do anything.  That area was supposed to be developed this year, but was delayed.  Hopefully, construction will start next year.  When it does, that area will be a construction zone for up to two years.  It won’t be suitable or safe for anyone to cross it until construction is complete. 

Further, in order for a trail to be created, insurance, liability, maintenance, lender approval, development costs, design issues, etc. will have to be determined.  Hence, it will require time and thought.

As plans and timing come together for that area, I will reach back out to you.  Please feel free to call me any time.



“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

Proposed Trail Map Habersham to PKES-PKMS_2017