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Oakwood City Council hopes grant makes trails
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Pictured is an artist’s rendering of what one segment of the walking trails in the city’s master plan, Oakwood 2030, could look like. - photo by For The Times


Oakwood City Planner Larry Sparks talks to City Council about pursuing a grant for proposed trails as part of the city’s overall master plan for 2030.

Oakwood hopes to get a leg up in the next round of applications for state trails money.

The city sought money last year unsuccessfully in the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Recreational Trails Program, but planning director Larry Sparks said he hopes the city’s new Oakwood 2030 plans will give them an edge this year.

"These (grants) are very competitive," he said. "(The state) had about three times as many requests for funds as they had (money), and that’ll probably be the case again this year.

"But since we have our master plan in place and we have green space in there, staff felt like it would be good to apply for these funds. If we get them, fine. If we don’t, we’ll continue on. ... I think we’re at an advantage now."

City Council agreed with Sparks, voting last week to proceed with the application, which if approved, will require a 20 percent match in money or donated services from the city.

"We need to apply to be known," said Mayor Lamar Scroggs. "Let’s move a little bit higher on the list to give us a better opportunity and be selected."

Trails and green space figure prominently in the city’s plans to redevelop and reshape the city’s downtown area by 2030, mainly focusing on older, largely undeveloped areas and along a stretch of Thurmon Tanner Parkway running from Plainview Road to Mundy Mill Road.

City officials envision open spaces, multiuse trails that could be used for walking and bicycling, protective areas around streams, nature trails, sidewalks, restrooms and crosswalks.

The city unveiled conceptual drawings last month before the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s South Hall Business Coalition and has received input from the community at two public hearings.

Full development could cost $150 million to $200 million, with the city responsible for about $50 million in land and infrastructure improvements.

Stan Brown, city manager, has said he expects the city will pursue various sources for funding over the years, including grants.

The city expects to apply for the trails grant, between $25,000 and $100,000, by the end of November, Sparks said.

He said the city has targeted the money for trails and green space in the "Government Town Center" part of Oakwood 2030, the first phase that involves 23 acres anchored by a new city hall and featuring a mix of retail shops, offices, lofts and townhomes.

Government Town Center will be located at the end of Main Street at Old Oakwood and Flat Creek roads.

Sparks said he hopes to hear back from the state on the grant by the first of the year or early spring.

"At that time, if things change ... you don’t have to accept the grant," he told City Council.