WARRENVILLE — Earth has been turned for a long-awaited green space project at Langley Pond.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Langley Pond Loop project was held on Tuesday, which was attended by local dignitaries, government officials, representatives of the organizations involved and an equine member of the community. Snowy the horse stood behind those with the shovels as they lifted the first bit of dirt that will make up the 1.8-mile natural surface trail. The loop will serve the interests of the equine community as well as those who enjoy hiking, jogging or walking.

The project is a vision of the Greater Aiken Integrated Trails Foundation, also known as GAIT, which has partnered with the Aiken County Parks and Recreation Department, the Aiken Land Conservancy and Equine Support Council. This is the first big project that the foundation is tackling.

Sam's Club is sponsoring the endeavor with a $35,000 donation. Aiken Sam's Club General Manager Gerald Raymond said this is the type of project that the retailer likes to support.

The trail will be designed and constructed by Long Cane Trails LLC. Bill Victor, with Long Cane Trails, said that they plan to build something that will last for decades and appeal to generations to come.

“This is a nice piece of land,” Victor said. “I think it's going to be a cool spot to come and get some exercise.”

Brian Sanders, assistant county administrator, said this trail project is just another example of all the great things happening in Aiken County, such as the new animal shelter and county government building that are both currently under construction.

“It's all finally coming to fruition,” Sanders said. “It's a great day for Aiken County.”

The Greater Aiken Integrated Trails Foundation was formed in 2011 and focuses on creating a “county-wide integrated recreation trail system.” Foundation board member Betty Ryberg said their goal is to link trails from North Augusta to the Aiken State Park in Windsor.

David Jameson, Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce president and CEO who is serving as the board's current chair, said that this kind of project protects green space, promotes health and wellness within the community and provides tourism opportunities.

Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard.