By Heather Mullinix
The city of Crossville will not seek grant funds to help it construct a proposed 2.2-mile greenway to connect Centennial Park and Obed River Park, following action at the March 21 special-called meeting of the city council.
"I think what's got everyone's attention here on the council is when we had the numbers of $1 million a mile on this trail," said Councilman George Marlow.
The city was considering a grant application for a $500,000 project, with a 50-50 split through Tennessee's Local Parks and Recreation Fund program.
The proposed greenway would follow the Little Obed River from Centennial Park to Obed River, crossing in the area of the Charleston Plantation apartment complex. The path would be paved and Americans with Disabilities Act accessible. It has a wide clear area and allows for multi-use.
"The multi-use is not a sidewalk," said City Engineer Tim Begley. "The multi-use trail, you can use a bicycle on it, where you can't use a bike on a sidewalk."
The proposed path would include two bridges, which do increase the cost of the project, estimated at $1 million a mile.
"We have another option for the grant, which is to use the railroad bed leaving the Obed River Park," Begley said. "There is some private property involved in this when we get back up to Industrial Ave."
Because both plans connect the two parks, Begley said they were good candidates for the grant program. The grant proposal looked at constructing half a mile of the trail along the Little Obed River and provide access to the Hillcrest subdivision to the greenway.
Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham asked how much volunteer help would be utilized on the project. Begley said no volunteer help was planned to be used, unless the city constructed a nature trail north of the river to connect the parks, with the understanding that would be paved in future years.
"Has the county been asked to help on this, since we're connecting the two park?" Graham asked. Obed River Park is a county park.
Begley said the city had talked with the county about previous grant applications for this project, but not for this grant application.
Councilman Danny Wyatt asked if the city used general fund money to construct the greenway, if it would need to be ADA accessible. Begley said that he did not believe that would be required.
Begley said, "We would have some liability there for potential lawsuits because of accessibility. I can't answer that."
The council is also considering a natural trail at Meadow Park Lake, which will be primarily built with volunteer workers. That path will be mulched and have about a four to eight-foot-wide path with a five-foot clear area. It will not be ADA accessible.
"There's not really any grants we can get for that," Begley said.
Graham asked the city to design culverts for Meadow Park Lake so that storm water would not wash away the work.
"That, to me, is one of the highest and best uses that we have out there. It's a perfect place to do it," Graham said.
Accessibility would not be an issue for the nature trail as it was not going to be paved and the terrain made accessibility almost impossible.
John Conrad, who is working with the city on the Meadow Park Lake trail, said there were distinct differences in the two projects, with a greenway designed for much higher usage.
"The usage at Meadow Lake will be low. It will be a steady trickle of people enjoying the views and enjoying the trail," Conrad said.
Councilman Pete Souza questioned if the city was prepared to move forward with the project, at a cost of $250,000 of city funds, if the grant was approved.
"If we ask for the grant. Later on, if we decide not to do the project and we do not vote for it, is that going to damage our credibility with requesting future grants?" Souza asked.
City Clerk Sally Oglesby said, "I think any time you request a grant and you're awarded one and then you turn it back in, it affects your credibility."
Souza said, "Then the question here for the council is do we want to do this? Are we going to do this, before we put out for the grant applications?"
Councilman Jesse Kerley said, "I feel like that's a lot of money. We're deciding where the funds are going to be with whatever the outcome is for the downtown project and the Northwest Connector.
"Anything that promotes health in the community, I'm all for. I just think this is a high pricetag for what we're getting."
Kerley said Obed River Park was a great facility, but he did not believe it was highly utilized by the community.
"I can't imagine why we'd be considering spending this kind of money to add on until it's highly used, or at least until somebody shows us numbers where it is overpacked," he said.
He added city staff didn't need to continue working on the project if the council was not going to support it.
He moved not to apply for the grant, supported by Souza. The motion passed unanimously.
In other action, the council approved the following:
•Budget amendment for selling a lot on Holiday Dr.;
•Budget amendment to pay the Cumberland County Board of Education liquor-by-the-drink tax funds;
•Changes to the city's sign ordinance and a waiver for billboards on recently annexed property at the corner of Lantana Rd. and Dunbar Rd.;
•Budgeting funds in the 2014-'15 budget for the Senior Men's Open sponsorship funds. The council had previously approved a three-year commitment with the Tennessee Golf Association to host the tournament in 2014, 2015 and 2016.