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City Council to approve federal grant for greenway

$1.2 million will go toward creation of sidewalk, parking lot and amphitheater

POSTED: August 10, 2011 10:52 p.m.

Gainesville is going to get a little greener and cleaner with the help of a federal trail grant.

The Gainesville City Council will discuss a $1.26 million federal grant for Georgia recreational trails at its work session today.

The grant will fund a half mile of a 12-foot greenway sidewalk between Banks Street and High Street, a parking lot, amphitheater and a cultivated grassy area with hills and trees.

"It's like a little park," said project manager Barclay Fouts.

The greenway will be built over an unused railroad track, he added.

The grant will also fund restoration to nearly 1,000 feet of Flat Creek, a stream that will run by the greenway. Flat Creek begins around downtown Gainesville and flows into Lake Lanier.

Although it is a natural stream, Fouts said decades of development, including pipes and box culverts, have altered and rerouted the stream until it eroded the stream bed.

When the stream is rerouted so it runs in a straighter line, the water flows more quickly and erodes the bottom of the stream until it's "like a ditch," Fouts said.

The project will restore the stream's natural meandering shape. It will also provide for containment ponds to catch oil and other waste as it runs off the surrounding streets during rainstorms.

That way, the runoff from the streets won't contaminate the stream, Fouts said.

The stream will also have rock cross veins, or an arrangement of rocks in the stream that will help mimic natural water flow.

The grant was awarded earlier this year, but the City Council will approve it at its meeting Tuesday.

The contract for the project is set for 200 days, Fouts said.

The City Council will also hold a public hearing on redistricting and will consider the proposed home rule ordinance amendment to the ward lines for the new maps.

The redistricting maps have been available for public viewing since they were presented to the City Council last month.

They were also presented at a community meeting at Bethel A.M.E. Church Monday.

Other work session items include a $1.2 million fiscal year 2012 Legacy Link Grant to fund the Community Service Center's Meals on Wheels, Senior Life Center and transportation to and from the Senior Center through Dial-a-Ride, a call-ahead curbside pickup service for Gainesville residents who need quick transportation.

The center received the contract in early July, and Director Phillippa Lewis Moss will sign it after the contract goes before the City Council at its meeting Tuesday.

"We were waiting to learn the impact of Hall County's budget reduction on the Community Service Center," Moss said. Hall County's June 30 cuts did not affect the grant, she added.

The center has received this grant for several years, and even though the contract isn't signed, the center already has taken steps to use the grant money, Moss said.

"We've just been kind of working on faith for the last month, and agencies like Legacy Link have been working with us on faith, because of course we didn't have these contracts in hand technically," she said.

The Community Service Center will also present a $30,000 grant from the Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Site for the council's approval.

In the tax assistance program, volunteers including Brenau University business and accounting students help low-income families do their taxes and get the most out of their tax credits.

The three-year grant would provide the salary for a program coordinator and basic costs such as paper and pens, Moss said.

Also on the agenda, the City Council will discuss the addition of a $1.5 million to $5 million revenue bond to IMS Gear Georgia, which manufactures small gears that eventually end up on car manufacturers' assembly lines.

IMS Gear Georgia will use the bond for the first phase of a three-year project that will create 78 new jobs and new production lines for the Gainesville company.

The city itself will not provide the bond money, but the bond must pass through a government entity to be tax exempt under the Internal Revenue Code.

The bond will also have lower interest rates, said attorney Tread Syfan, the legal counsel for the bond issuance.

IMS Gear's project has not changed and costs have not increased, Syfan added.

The company originally planned to pay for additional production costs above the $5 million, but then decided to increase the bond and pay less out of pocket, he said.

 



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