The idea of a multi-use trail system throughout Newnan and Coweta County is now a reality.
On Tuesday evening, both the Newnan City Council and the Coweta County Board Of Commissioners gave the green light to accept a master plan proposed for creating the LINC – a 25.5 multi-use trail system that aims to connect the east and west sides of Newnan with all trails leading to the downtown business district.
Ed McBrayer, executive director for the PATH Foundation, spoke to the city council and commissioners.
A motion to adopt the concept plan was passed unanimously by the city council, which authorized staff to proceed with the design for a segment of the trail. Members of the audience erupted in applause following the decision.
“This is a fluid plan,” said Mayor Keith Brady. “It’s not etched in stone and we’ll do whatever it takes to make it work.”
The master plan is broken down into 15 separate segments as to help prioritize implementation. McBrayer, who helped develop the Silver Comet Trail, noted that the project was built in 17 different segments due to political and financial issues, along with ease of construction.
Council gave the green light for the LINC #4, or the Newnan (Nixon) Centre Connection.
The connection will link Newnan Crossing Boulevard to the Nixon Centre, Newnan Crossing Elementary School, and the residential neighborhoods along Highwoods Parkway and Shenandoah Boulevard.
The total distance for the connection is approximately 1.6 miles and comes with a $2,198,787 price tag, according to developers.
To download a copy of the master plan, please click here
Providing safe routes to school for Newnan Crossing Elementary and connecting the various areas to promote a future “live, work, play” development was the primary motivating factor in developing this particular segment first.
One of the primary drivers for creating a path system in a community is not only the added health benefits that come from a more active population, but economic opportunities, McBrayer said, adding that a path system serves as an economic driver for many companies looking to keep and recruit younger talent.
“The next generation of residents will be looking for a community that utilizes a trail system,” McBrayer said.
The Coweta County Board of Commissioners also unanimously voted to accept the master plan, following a presentation by McBrayer.
Building the trail system is “driven by opportunity and obstacles,” McBrayer said. “We can’t just draw lines on a map. What we are doing here is showing areas where you can really build a trail. If everyone wants to build one, we’ve found ways to build it.”
“We would love for you guys to adopt the plan,” McBrayer said. “You guys participated in the funding of it … we want it to be yours and we want it to feel like it’s yours,” he said. “Adopting it makes sure this the plan that everybody agrees to.”
It also gives the opportunity for the county to help align greenspace in future developments with the trail plan.
Adopting the plan doesn’t obligate the county to fund actual trails, according to County Administrator Michael Fouts. Moving forward with a particular phase of the trail would require another vote by the commissioners.
Most of the first four proposed phases are in the city of Newnan, but the fifth phase includes parts of the unincorporated county, and that’s when the need for county funding would kick in.
Commissioner Bob Blackburn asked about allowing golf carts on the paths.
That’s not recommended, McBrayer said. With other path systems they’ve done, there are some short sections where people can use golf carts to get from home to a golf course, and those limited areas are clearly marked, he said. Other than that, the only mechanized vehicles that are allowed are wheelchairs.
“That is what we have done in other cities and it works very well,” McBrayer said.
Staff writer Sarah Fay Campbell contributed to this story.
Clay Neely: firstname.lastname@example.org, @clayneely