The Gordon County Board of Commissioners listened to a presentation by Gritta DeMayo of Kiazen Collaborative at the latest Commission meeting on Tuesday, July 18 concerning the Rivers to Ridge Master Trail Plan and an implementation strategy on a way to bring the proposed 8.7 miles of greenway trails to Gordon County.

“Based on the 2007 county-wide Comprehensive Master Plan, and the 2009 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, about two years ago, we decided to pursue a Greenway Master Plan for the county,” said Don Holley, director of Gordon County Parks and Recreation. “We researched some grants through the help of Representative Tom Graves office; we secured an ARC grant to pay for 70 percent of this plan and then the remaining was split between the City of Calhoun and Gordon County.”

After a public meeting was held in March of this year concerning the Greenway Master Plan, minor tweaks were made and DeMayo presented the Board with the updated plan and implementation strategy at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The master plan is an 8.7 mile greenway system that is 8 - 10 feet wide; paved multi-use where you would have walkers, runners and baby strollers and everything within your population being able to utilize the trail system,” said DeMayo.

The Rivers to Ridge Master Plan is divided into seven segments: South Connector, Calhoun Pedestrian Trail to City Park, Spur to Tech College and Career Academy, Downtown to Red Bud Road, Red Bud Road Sidepath, Red Bud Road to Gordon Central High School and Gordon Central High School to the New Echota Historic Site.

The complete distance and route of the individual trail segments can be found on our website, calhountimes.com, but the basic route from beginning to end would take the public from an approximate area around Wal-Mart in Calhoun, down to the Calhoun Recreation Department, through downtown Calhoun to Red Bud Road, east on Red Bud Road to Gordon Hospital, from the area of the new Gordon Hospital Trail to Gordon Central High School and from the High School to New Echota.

A Blueway System was also proposed, utilizing local river waterways, so the public can canoe, kayak or paddleboard.

DeMayo also explained funding for the project to the Board. In addition to federal-aid grants and funding programs, other resources include donations from local corporations, allocations within local government budgets and Special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST).

A planning cost per segment has been performed so fundraising for the project can begin, and DeMayo told the Board that Kiazen would assist with fundraising. “The first steps in doing that is to adopt the master plan so that you can pursue different grant opportunities for trails,” said DeMayo.

A steering committee for the project will now, according to DeMayo, work with the master plan and continue to look for funding opportunities. A Friends of Rivers to Ridge Trail System group will also be formed to have a public-private sector partnership and get the private sector involved in the master plan.

The Commissioners voted to adopt the master plan; it will now go to the City of Calhoun this Monday, July 24, for consideration there.