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Scenic Dade Proposes Trail Project to IDA

By LYDIA BERGLAR
News Editor

At the February 19th meeting of the Industrial Development Authority, Scenic Dade presented plans to connect Sitton’s Gulch Trail to downtown Trenton.

Before Scenic Dade’s presentation, Evan Stone (IDA executive director) reported that the Georgia Department of Community Affairs did a walk-through of Vanguard in January as part of following up on the OneGeorgia grant from nearly nine years ago that helped bring Vanguard to Dade.

With Jeff Mullis (president and CEO of the JDA – Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority) in attendance, Stone asked Mullis for further details about how the grant came about. Mullis said, “We had a conversation with then Governor Deal, and he was all for taking care of Dade County.”

Stone noted that Vanguard will soon be on the county’s tax rolls.

Stone then reported that the Trenton Pressing sewer project has been completed and the water line should be completed by March 1st.

Stone also noted that he made a few industry visits and is working with Integer and the City of Trenton to add crosswalks near Integer.

During the JDA’s report, Mullis repeated what he has often said at recent IDA meetings: Industries continue to show interest in Dade County.

Spencer Hogg (JDA project manager) added that he has been working with Evan on several grants, but he did not expand on these grants or what they would be for. Hogg said that they continue to receive and work through requests for information.

Jameson Griffin (Scenic Dade president) then recapped the first phase of Town Creek Trail and discussed Scenic Dade’s plans for phase two: connecting Town Creek Trail and Trenton to Cloudland Canyon State Park. Brad Gibson (Cloudland Canyon manager) attended the meeting in support of the project.

Griffin explained that Scenic Dade’s tentative route would connect to Trenton’s sidewalk at Morrison Ridge Road, wind through IDA property, go through a portion of private property owners’ land, and connect to the Sitton Gulch trailhead. He explained that another option is to use the Industrial Boulevard loop and place the trail behind Sunset Drive, but this would still require use of IDA property.

Before approaching the private property owners who will need to provide an easement for the project to occur, Scenic Dade wanted to make sure the IDA was on board. Griffin asked, “Would the IDA be open to either granting us this land or selling us this land?”

Griffin said this trail would be softscape (gravel, dirt, mulch, or a combination), six to twelve feet wide, 8,000 to 8,500 feet long, and a bridge would be built to cross the creek.

Explaining the positive impact Scenic Dade believes this path could have, Griffin said, “This would extend Cloudland Canyon’s footprint through Dade County connecting [the park] all the way to Trenton, thereby harnessing some of the tourism that’s in Cloudland Canyon…Trails like this help advance the price for both commercial property and residential property…A trail put in the right place is only going to elevate the value of the property.”

IDA board member Adam Austin asked how the trail would be maintained. Griffin answered (and Gibson agreed) that the state park would maintain this portion of the trail.

James Cantrell (IDA chairman) explained that as long as the trail doesn’t interfere with potential future land use by the IDA, he sees no problem with moving forward. He suggested that since the creek is an existing natural obstruction, the trail could be placed along the creek.

Griffin said that Scenic Dade would work with the IDA to figure out the best route that wouldn’t interfere with future land use. He asked for permission to access the property and begin flagging potential routes, hoping to do this with a representative from the IDA. Stone agreed to walk the property with Griffin.

Griffin explained that Scenic Dade would then work with the engineering firm CTI on the trail.

He also mentioned a potential future question: If private land owners aren’t open to an easement, “is there still a desire to extend what we’ve currently done on IDA property to enhance the value of IDA property?”

IDA board member Will Garrett mentioned Helena, Ala. where he spent time visiting family. He said, “They have really been working on that little city. It’s so quaint and beautiful. To make it available and tourist available to greater Birmingham, they have built trails all over…that are winding their way into greater Birmingham…I can see the incredible value of this [trail].”

Mullis asked if Scenic Dade has received/plans to apply for grants for the project. Griffin said that he is working with the Appalachian Regional Commission, noting, “They’re aware of this, and they’re very much on board and excited.”

With Cloudland Canyon already on board with the project and now the IDA as well, Scenic Dade can begin working on easements with private landowners.

This discussion did not clarify if there would be a land sale or grant agreement between the IDA and Scenic Dade.

The IDA then entered executive session, reporting afterward that no votes were taken.

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