COVINGTON -- The city of Porterdale will apply for a grant to construct a concrete trail connecting the Yellow River Park to Newton County schools off Brown Bridge Road, and will pay matching funds if the grant is awarded.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted not to pursue the grant at its Nov. 20 meeting.
Special Projects Coordinator Cheryl Delk reported that there is a $125,000 shortfall to complete the trail. A grant from the Department of Natural Resources Trails Funding program could cover up to $100,000 of that, and requires a 20 percent match, proposed to be split between Porterdale and the county. A majority of commissioners voted not to apply for the grant or to fund the county's portion of the match. Commissioner Tim Fleming expressed concern over the fact that the county still has to acquire one easement -- that accounts for 65 percent of the needed property -- in order for the project to move forward.
"If we don't get that property we won't get this funding and we'll lose the funding we have," Delk said. She said she came before the BOC because the grant application was due Nov. 30.
Fleming also questioned whether Porterdale had the money to assist with the match.
Following the BOC's rejection of the proposal, Porterdale officials have agreed to fund the match out of SPLOST revenues.
Expenditures related to the match wouldn't start until the 2014 budget, "so it's not an immediate concern," said City Manager Bob Thomson. The project is compatible with other projects the city is taking on, he said. "We've received close to $500,000 for recreation trails, trail head development and that sort of thing. We have a very active Yellow River preservation group, the kayak rental place is doing well. It's complementary to all our other efforts."
The 1.5-mile trail, for which a federal TE grant was awarded and approved by county commissioners back in 2001, will connect Yellow River Park to the education complex that includes Porterdale Elementary, Newton High and Newton College and Career Academy. The trail will connect to a planned pedestrian bridge on the Yellow River. Construction plans and right of way plans have already been funded and approved by DOT.
The ultimate goal is to connect Porterdale and Turner Lake Park through the county's trail network.