Engineers from a consulting firm in Chattanooga walked Unity Point with Rome officials to get a feel for how best to use the park at the confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah rivers.
An earmark of $1.8 million was included in the 2013 SPLOST package to restore the closed and crumbling vantage point. But two initial bids on the project that came in on budget did not accomplish what city officials had hoped for.
Now CTI Engineers has been contracted to come up with a new design.
City Manager Sammy Rich said one thing he feels confident will be included is some sort of canoe or kayak put-in on the Etowah River side of the point.
The project is also supposed to provide a means of controlling the erosion of the point. The river levels fluctuate significantly during the rainy season and erosion at that area occurs naturally.
Rich said he asked CTI design engineers to give the city some different options.
The company has done a similar project in East Ridge, a suburb of Chattanooga, where there is a kayak launch at the confluence of South Chickamauga and West Chickamauga creeks, said Philip Schofield of CTI Engineers.
The city has not given him a deadline for the completion of the design yet, he said.
“The view is incredible,” Rich said. “I want to create something that is inviting and having as much usable real estate as possible ... It’s one of the more beautiful spots in Rome but it currently does not reflect that.”
The lower tier of the point is still heavily used for fishing, even though fencing was put up years ago to try to keep people out of the area for safety’s sake.
“Figuring out a way to preserve that while protecting it environmentally is the challenge of the design,” Rich said.
As it relates to the stabilization of the riverbank, Schofield said a variety of permits will be required from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
“It’ll be armored but it will be vegetated,” Schofield said. “Hopefully, when it’s done you won’t even be able to tell the rock armoring is there because of the soil and vegetation.”
Another 2013 SPLOST project is waiting on some dry weather.
Construction crews are ready to place a hard surface down on the two-mile stretch of the new Mount Berry Trail. The trail extends from behind the post office on Coligni Way out to Big Dry Creek.
Spriggs Construction won the bid in December 2018 for $466,369.
“The trucks are probably going to have to come in from a couple of different points to do the surface and we really the need the weather to dry it out a little bit,” Rich said. “If you think about hauling a full truck across the Berry pasture roads, we’re going to need some dry weather for that.”
There will be some opportunities to develop vistas of the river along that trail. The city may bring back a goat crew to help clear vegetation in some areas along the river buffer, Rich said.
“You do need access to spots where you can have a nice place for a picnic table, rest and stop,” Rich said. “If you’re a bike rider and want to pull over and be able to look over the river, I think that’s one of the critical pieces to making a successful trail system.”
The trail would add another picturesque area to Rome’s trail system, he said.
“Anybody who’s seen it has just fallen in love with that area” Rich said.