1.7 Miles of Nature
Coweta could get greenway trail
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Coweta County could have a 1.7-mile "greenway" trail near the B.T. Brown Reservoir — built mostly with federal funds — if the Coweta County Board of Commissioners approves matching funds for the project.
Coweta County and Carroll, Douglas and Fulton counties each received a $500,000 federal earmark for the Chattahoochee Hill Country Regional Greenway master plan, which was developed in 2003.
Douglas County recently completed its greenway, and Coweta County's planning department is requesting $14,000 in local matching funds for the design work on Coweta's trail.
There will be $450,000 in federal money for the project because the Georgia Department of Transportation took $50,000 as its management fee, said Tavores Edwards, Coweta's transportation manager.
Once the design is complete, Coweta County will have to kick in $100,000 in matching funds to get the remaining $396,000 in construction fees.
The proposed greenway trail would be built entirely on public property, going from county-owned land on Happy Valley Circle onto land owned by the Coweta County Water Authority. The trail would cross the B.T. Brown dam and come out on Tommy Lee Cook Road. Plans are for a parking lot and restrooms at both trail heads, but a lot of that will depend on the construction costs, according to Edwards. The length of the trail could also change based on costs.
So will the actual design of the trail. At the very least, it will be a compact crushed slate trail, similar to the one at the Brown's Mill Battlefield site. The Brown's Mill trail is 10 feet wide.
Douglas County's greenway, located in the Boundary Waters park, is concrete and is 12 feet wide.
The greenway could be used for walking and jogging, as well as bicycling, but no motorized vehicles would be allowed.
Since it is federally funded, the project will have to go through federal environmental approvals, and can't be built with inmate labor.
Now that the Brown's Mill project is complete, Edwards said staff members feel like "this would be a good time to move forward with this project."
Edwards and Commission Chairman Bob Blackburn, who represents the Third District, where the trail would be located, recently visited the Douglas County greenway.
They went at 9 a.m. on a Friday and found the greenway packed.
"The amount of people out there — kids and adults — was incredible," Edwards said. "There is such a high demand for facilities such as these."
Blackburn said he was surprised to find that the presence of greenways, greenbelts and bike trails are among the top features companies look at when considering where to locate.
The Tommy Lee Cook end of the greenway will be located fairly close to Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills. In the future, there could be a tie-in built.
"Of course, we all know this is going to be a long-range project," Edwards said of the greenway system. "This is going to be the first step, at least getting the planning done."
Edwards said there is some concern that if Coweta doesn't go ahead and use the earmarked funds, they might go away.
"Are we guaranteed that this money is going to be there?" asked Commissioner Tim Lassetter.
If the county approves the funds, the Georgia Department of Transportation will submit a project framework agreement. Once that agreement is signed, "this money will be there, because we are moving forward," Edwards said.
Edwards said he hasn't received any notice the funds might go away. However, "what I keep hearing is if we don't use it, we could lose it."
Lassetter said he wouldn't even want to spend $14,000 "on a plan that sits there for ages and years before the other funds are available."
Both Lassetter and Commissioner Rodney Brooks said they are glad the greenway would be located on public property.
"I would be concerned about any project that was not on public property," Lassetter said.