County allocates funds to Panola Mountain trail extension
By Asia Ashley
STOCKBRIDGE — Funding for a trail extension from Panola State Mountain Park to Austin Road Middle School was approved by Henry County commissioners Tuesday morning.
The trail plan has been in the works since late 2011 when the county entered into an agreement with the PATH Foundation, a nonprofit organization that plans, designs and builds a network of off-road trails in and around Atlanta with over 90 percent of the donations it receives, according to its website.
Original projected costs during the concept phase was $928,000, according to county documents. During the Tuesday meeting, documents showed the project cost ballooned to estimated $1.86 million.
In the original agreement, the county would provide $50,000 in in-kind services toward the project. However, the resolution approved by commissioners Tuesday will allow the use much more county funds.
The county had previously moved $435,600 of funding that was allocated towards a multi-use trail for Nash Farms Park to the Panola trail project. The Nash Farms trail never moved forward after no termini was determined for the trail, according to documents.
In addition, PATH requested that the county provide $157,400 in in-kind services and $211,000 in cash toward the project, while PATH will provide a total of $361,000 in funding.
The remaining funds in the amount of $1.13 million come from two Transportation Enhancement Grants from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Henry County Department of Transportation Director Terry McMickle said some of the increase in costs is due to added project costs including pedestrian flashers, alignment, right-of way, environmental studies and a bridge over Ga 155.
“Probably one of our biggest costs is the bridge over 155,” he said. “The cost of that, if you can imagine, is pretty extensive.
Commissioners approved the additional $368,4000 in funding, with Chairman Tommy Smith opposed.
“This is a project that will benefit the entire county,” said Commissioner Bruce Holmes. “These trails will be throughout the county, and will increase property values and generate revenue. If we want people to start investing in this county, we got to start investing in ourselves.”