BOC reach cost-sharing agreement with PATH Foundation

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Henry County Board of Commissioners voted Aug. 16 to accept an agreement with the PATH Foundation for cost-sharing of the Panola Mountain Greenway Trail project. Once completed, the multi-use trail will stretch from Austin Road Middle School to Panola Mountain State Park.

PATH and the county agreed in 2011 to construct the trail, for which the county would provide $50,000 worth of in-kind services. A $700,000 transportation enhancement grant was to provide the majority of the funding, with the remained coming from PATH.

But the original cost estimate of $928,000 has grown to $1,865,000 in that time, which led PATH officials back to ask for additional funds from the county.

The organization requested $157,400 in contribution or in-kind services during the construction phase as well as $211,000 in the pre-construction phase that includes right-of-way acquisition. The county got approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation to move $435,600 from a proposed trail project at Nash Farm Park that never materialized.

PATH will provide a total of $361,000 in funding, according to county officials, with two transportation enhancement grants adding up to $1,135,600.

County transportation director Wade Stroud told the board that any costs above the current $1,865,000 estimate would be split 50-50 with PATH. The length of the project means that some funding can come from next year’s budget, he added.

“We need to get this thing started and finish it,” said Chairman Tommy Smith. “The longer we wait, it seems, the more it costs.”

In other business, a tract of land formerly part of South Bethany Road has been abandoned and declared surplus by the board. The tract, which encompasses about three-quarters of an acre, was part of the road before it was realigned a few years ago to straighten a severe curve. The resulting section, to the immediate west of the right-of-way, now serves no purpose for the traveling public. A subsequent action by the board authorized county officials to put the tract up for sale.