Rockdale applies for trail grant

CONYERS -- Rockdale County plans to apply for a $100,000 state grant to construct a new trail through Wheeler Park.

Jackie Lunsford, Rockdale County Recreation and Maintenance deputy director, presented the Georgia Recreational Trails Program grant opportunity at the Nov. 9 Board of Commissioners meeting. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources grant requires a 20 percent match, and the state will reimburse up to $80,000 of what is spent on the project.

The 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail will start at Wheeler Park to loop around county property and end at the other side of Culpepper Drive.

The state DNR will rate grant applicants through a point system to decide who will receive the grant, explained Lunsford.

Lunsford told the board that Rockdale County accumulated points from being within a greenway corridor and by connecting with the city's developing Olde Town Conyers Trail, set to run alongside Parker Road through Culpepper Drive.

"There are a lot of reasons why this project is good," Lunsford said.

And there is a chance the county will not need to contribute the 20 percent match of the $100,000 grant.

"We don't anticipate that it would cost that much," said Recreation and Maintenance Director David Smith.

The trail is projected to cost between $75,000 to $80,000, according to Smith.

Anticipated to be named the Wheeler Park Trail, the trail is part of the 2006 recreation master plan. Smith explained focus groups and surveys were conducted to identify resident needs and what the public wanted to see.

"Walking paths and trails were the No. 1 thing," Smith said.

Much of the public at the time said football fields were the only place to go walking.

"So the citizens wanted places to go walk," Smith said. "So we did the one at Pine Log and the one at Johnson Park and we did it in-house."

DNR will notify grant award finalists in February.