There’s good news to report for those in favor of bringing the Jolley Trolley to Safety Harbor: officials involved with the plan say they have collected a large portion of the $5,000 from local merchants that is necessary to finalize the deal.
Just ten days ago, only about 10-percent of the funds had been collected, leaving organizers scrambling to come up with the rest before the early-December cutoff date.
But now, just two days before the deadline, there is $4,250 in the pot and the goal is finally in sight, although there is still a little ways to go.
“We’re still shy of our goal, but it’s going to happen,” Safety Harbor Downtown Business Alliance president Martha Morrison, a point person for the trolley campaign, said.
“A week ago we weren’t so sure it would happen,” she added. “But a lot of merchants have come on board in that time, and they are getting really excited about the trolley coming to town.”
Officials from the Chamber of Commerce and City Hall have been working for more than a year on the deal that would bring the Jolley Trolley, a Clearwater based pedestrian transit service, to Safety Harbor.
With the majority of the $80,000 cost being paid for by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and federal grant money, the city needed to come up with $20,000 to make up the difference, so civic leaders sat down and hammered out an arrangement that was agreeable to all sides.
The agreement called for the City to pay $10,000. The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa would pay $5,000, and local merchants would cover the remaining $5,000, which equated to $50.00 apiece, based on an estimate of 85 downtown merchants participating.
“It’s $80,000 worth of trolley for $50.00,” City Manager Matt Spoor said recently.
But despite the seemingly sweet deal, many merchants did not pony up the fifty bucks until it came down to the last minute.
“It was a slow summer, and season is just starting to kick in,” Morrison reasoned. “For some people, $50.00 is a lot of money.”
Now that the end is in sight and it looks like the trolley coming to town will become a reality, more and more merchants are expressing support – and opening their wallets – for the service.
Morrison stressed she will still be pounding the pavement and email servers soliciting the rest of the money. But she is encouraged by the overall enthusiasm for the project by many local business owners.
“I’ve been impressed that even merchants on side streets have been donating to the cause,” Morrison said. “They realize that even if the trolley doesn’t benefit them directly, this is something that is going to benefit the whole town.”
“My whole motto is to change the town from a “hidden gem” to a destination that people want to come to,” she added. “And having this trolley is a way to do that.”
To donate money to the Jolley Trolley fund, visit the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce, or see Martha at her shop, Antiques to Aardvarks, located at 310 Main Street in downtown Safety Harbor.