Gettysburg Community Celebrates Tom Jolin's Community Service

by Lex McMillan

Tom Jolin, left, and Eric Meyer, president of HABPI (Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian Inc.) hold a certificate that will be made into a plaque that will be displayed on the Gettysburg Interloop near West Middle Street. About 50 people attended a reception for Jolin on Wednesday in the charlie Sterner Building at the Gettysburg Rec Park. He was recognized for the 18 years he served on the board for HABPI and his dedication to create the Gettysburg trail system. (Darryl Wheeler/Gettysburg Times)

Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc., (HABPI) welcomed about 80 community members to a joyful gathering at the Gettysburg Recreation Park on January 11 to honor Tom Jolin’s 18 years of dedicated volunteer service on its Board. A founder of HABPI, Jolin is a  model of what volunteers can accomplish in their communities. 

HABPI is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization founded in 2005 to develop safe, accessible walking and bicycling trails or paths in Adams County for recreation, transportation, and improved health. HABPI’s mission is to reverse the trend of transportation choices resulting in an increasingly sedentary lifestyle that has had an adverse impact on personal health, air quality, community cohesion, and downtown businesses through sprawl to the suburbs. 

Since 2007, HABPI has worked with community partners to plan and develop the Gettysburg Inner Loop (GIL).  When complete, the GIL will be a 5.5-mile, environmentally friendly and safe path for bicyclists and pedestrians to travel around the borough. The GIL is about half complete. The next phase of the GIL includes the beautiful Gettysburg Greenway, a graciously landscaped segment of the trail in downtown Gettysburg. 

HABPI President Eric Meyer said, “it would be difficult to overstate the impact that Tom Jolin has had on our community. We owe him the deepest gratitude for his tireless service.”

Jolin has long been an advocate for “active transportation,” which includes walking and bicycling. He has worked hard to get residents, especially children, more physically active to address the chronic problem of obesity in our community. As HABPI’s founding president, Jolin developed fruitful partnerships with the Gettysburg Schools, WellSpan, Destination Gettysburg, the Robert C. Hoffman Endowment Trust, Adams County Community Foundation, South Mountain Partnership, and Rotary, among others.  His partnerships with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, the Borough of Gettysburg, and the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources led to development of the GIL trail system.  Jolin worked closely with the Borough to get the grants needed to create the GIL. 

As an all-volunteer organization, HABPI’s success has resulted from a strategy rooted in advocacy, education, and community partnerships. HABPI raises the required funding from generous individual donors, foundations, the private non-profit sector, and select state and Federal grants made to the borough of Gettysburg, the Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority, and HABPI itself. With community support, HABPI has secured more than $3.376 million for the GIL and connecting trails. HABPI recently was awarded a $15,000 grant for the next GIL phase from the Adams County Community Foundation, with a condition that we raise a $15,000 match from new sources. 

Among HABPI initiatives and accomplishments are the following:

  • Trail Feasibility Study, on and off-road trail linking Gettysburg to Hanover, 2006. 
  • Gettysburg Inner Loop (GIL) Feasibility Study completed in 2010.
  • Gettysburg GIL Greenway Master Plan completed in 2013, a $25,000 effort.
  • Completed the $2M+ GIL Phase A from the Gettysburg Recreation Park to West Racehorse Alley by the Post Office, which includes a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge.
  • Assisted in widening the heavily used Biser Trail at the Gettysburg Recreation Park.
  • Supported completion of the North Gettysburg Trail, which goes from Gettysburg Borough to the Gettysburg High School.
  • Working with the Gettysburg School District, completed the Lefever Street Trail connecting Baltimore Street to East Middle Street. 
  • Convinced the Business Improvement District Steinwehr to install bicycle travel lanes on both sides of Steinwehr Avenue, as part of the Steinwehr Revitalization Project.
  • Sponsors the Annual Kids Bicycle Parade at the Adams County Heritage Festival. 
  • Secured $10,000 planning grant from the Hoffman Charitable Endowment Trust to develop a 500-foot trail spur to the new Adams County Historical Society site on Biglerville Road.
  • Assisted the borough and local businesses with the purchase and installation of bicycle racks at key locations in the community.
  • Obtained donation of bicycle repair station and helped install at Gettysburg Rec Park.

Always eager to give credit to others, Jolin is quick to note that all these accomplishments reflect a generous community and many other hard-working volunteers.

Lex McMillan is President Emeritus of Albright College in Reading, PA, and a member of the HABPI Board.