The city of Newnan is doubling down on its quality of life initiative, recently committing to jumpstarting more work on LINC project and signing off on the creation a dog park on city-owned land.
During their annual retreat, the city council and city staff touched on a variety of topics concerning the future of the Newnan. In one presentation, a laundry list of items sought by potential developers when choosing a new location were discussed.
Among them included proximity to the interstate, availability of skilled labor, tax exemptions, proximity to major markets and quality of life.
According to City Manager Cleatus Phillips, the city is performing well in all categories and wants to maintain a healthy momentum.
Last summer, 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-mile, multi-use trail system that aims to connect the east and west sides of Newnan, with all trails leading to the downtown business district.
The first section of the LINC is a 1.6-mile section of multi-use trail beginning at the intersection of Newnan Crossing Boulevard and Summerlin Boulevard and ending at Highwoods Parkway located in the Summergrove residential neighborhood.
It’s currently out to bid, but council members say they are eager to look into advance funding for the next three sections, which would fully connect the Summergrove area to downtown Newnan.
Phillips said the $7 million in allocated funds for the upcoming 2019 SPLOST will help fast-track the project. The city is currently looking into various advance funding options, and cited the type of loan used to fund the University of West Georgia’s Newnan Campus as possibility.
During the West Georgia project, the Downtown Development Authority was able to incur debt by having the city pay for a loan without floating a bond. Coincidentally, the UWG project will be paid in full by 2019, according to city officials.
The decision for proceeding with advance funding makes good business sense, according to Mayor Keith Brady.
"When the SPLOST passed, the wording was there for the government entities to do advance funding, so we’ll take advantage of that,” Brady said. "Since the construction industry is so heated, it's cheaper to borrow with a low interest rate and fund it up front and capture the difference between construction costs in five years."
Brady said the push for the LINC is a direct result of a tremendous grassroots effort and hearing great support for the project by members of the community.
“The initial meeting at the Newnan Centre was an exceptional turnout, and we’re proud to get something moving on it,” Brady said. “The most exciting part will be building the bridge across the interstate, which will serve as a great identity piece for our community and it’s something everyone can enjoy."
During last year’s retreat, there was a proposal to create a dog park on city property located on Sprayberry Road. Members of the council requested city staff look further into the prospect. This year, two proposals were submitted for the council – one of which the city agreed would be the best fit.
In the approved plan, the 8.26-acre parcel owned by the city would be divided by a road and roundabout on Casey Road. The city plans to sell a 1.93 acre parcel for residential construction while the remaining 6.33 acres would be dedicated to the Harpers Farm Dog Park.
The rejected plan proposed for the entire property to be used as a park, but the council balked at the idea of a road dividing the area, citing safety concerns with children.
In addition to a SPLOST allocation, sales from the 1.93 acre parcel would also help fund the park, which currently touts a $1 million price tag.
However, the price tag is far from official and many variables can help reduce the cost, according to Phillips.
While the council seems eager to begin several quality of life projects, they’ve pumped the brakes on a proposed sports complex and are taking a “wait and see” approach.
“As it stands, the proposal doesn’t make good fiscal sense at the moment,” Phillips said. “If anything changes, we’ll certainly look into it."