In early September, our long-time consultant Herb Hiller transitioned from being our Southeast region (Florida and Georgia) point person to doing work on a project basis for the ECGA. This change is at Herb’s wish to travel less and devote more time to other projects.
Herb has been an invaluable teammate to everyone at the ECGA, bringing a unique grasp of ecotourism with its potential for locally-resourceful economic development.
Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano notes, “I haven’t worked with a more inspiring colleague full of positive energy, optimism, creativity, and perseverance. We will miss his everyday engagement and look forward to partnering on projects that foster a healthy and sustainable future for Florida’s communities and the state’s growing tourism.”
FL ECG Committee Chair & former Trustee Paul Haydt, ECGA Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano, and Herb Hiller at an ECG Summit.
Karen Votava, the ECGA’s first Executive Director, brought Herb on in 2006. He had worked for many years in tourism, bicycling, and trails projects in Florida and had a great reputation. Karen described Herb’s early years with the ECGA: “His enormous experience and great connections in Florida allowed him to link up with key Florida players at the state, county and local levels that helped tremendously to raise our profile within the state.”
Among the key things Herb accomplished at the ECGA was establishing the route known as the St. John’s River-to-Sea Loop, which was adopted as a state priority and as an ECG complementary route. Earlier this year, the 260-mile, five-county Florida trail was slated for new FDOT SUN Trails funding to completion.
Herb’s leadership in the region led to a key partnership between the ECGA and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission. The ECG traverses the historically-significant Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor between Wilmington, North Carolina, and Armstrong, Florida.
Herb also created productive relationships between the ECGA and the state’s Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Greenways and Trails. The East Coast Greenway spans more than 550 miles in Florida, making it the longest state in our 3,000-mile system. The ECG in Florida is now over 35 percent paved, off-road, multi-use path.
In Georgia, Herb collaborated with Jo Hickson, Executive Director of the Coastal Georgia Greenway, which the ECG now co-locates with through Georgia. Herb and Jo have worked effectively together over many years to advance this plan and several stretches are now completed and more are in the planning pipeline.
Karen Votava says, “Herb brought big-picture thinking into ECGA policy discussions. I found him to be one of our most thoughtful and innovative staff members and he always contributed unique ideas to our thinking about strategy. He was a mentor to all of us and I will always treasure the opportunity to have worked beside Herb.”
Herb reflected on his work with the ECGA, “The Alliance has been unusually receptive to bold thinking. Just the idea of a multi-use path that connects Maine with Florida – to get people out of cars for short distances, for trail access to transit, for long distance vacationing – has to be one of the best ideas for binding a fractured America together.”
Herb, we cannot thank you enough for your many contributions to the East Coast Greenway over the years. Your work has inspired us all and created a legacy of success, as the Greenway will be enjoyed by generations to come.
– Thank you to Karen Votava and Herb Hiller for providing information for this article.
Communications about the ECG in Florida and Georgia should be sent to Director of Greenway Programs Niles Barnes at email@example.com. We will be hiring a new Florida-based coordinator in the next few months.
This blog post appeared in our September 2016 E-newsletter. Click this link to read the entire newsletter.