By Heather Mullinix
The Crossville City Council deferred action on applying for a grant to help build a portion of a proposed greenway between Centennial Park and Obed River Park, instead asking for a work session on the project.
Councilman Pete Souza said, "We're asking for the grant before we've decided whether we want to do this...We use a grant to justify the project."
Souza wanted the council to make a decision on the project before applying for the grant funds.
The proposed grant application seeks $250,000 in funding from Tennessee's Local Parks and Recreation Fund program, which requires the city to match the grant amount. The funds would be used to construct a half-mile trail extension at Centennial Park as the first section of a long-proposed 2.2-mile greenway connection beside the Obed River between Centennial Park and Obed River Park on Hwy. 70 N.
The trail would be about 10-feet wide and paved and allow for non-motorized vehicles.
Mary Varvra, senior landscape architect with Lose & Associates, Inc., said the plan would include two bridges, one of which would provide access to the Hillcrest neighborhood to the greenway.
"A national trend is walking," Varva said. "In 2003, there was a grant application for this section of trail, 2.2 miles...We're proposing doing. 5 miles."
She explained costs for greenway construction was about $1 million per mile.
"That's for a 10- to 12-foot paved path," she said.
The trail would cross Industrial Blvd. and continue on city-owned property. Those aspects would make for a strong application, Varva said.
Funding for the grant match is not yet included in the fiscal year 2014-'15 draft budget. City Manager David Rutherford said he expects about a $12.5 million operating budget next year.
"It looks good without any tax increase or fee increase," Rutherford said of the budget currently under development. "That's what I'll be presenting to council."
Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham said the matching funds for the grant would require about a 6-cent tax increase.
"We could use money out of the general fund budget for that, as well," Graham said.
Rutherford said about 50 cities would likely be applying for funding in the program.
Rutherford said, "If we get funded, we'll build it. If we don't get funded, we'll rethink our position and try again."
Councilman George Marlow voiced support for the grant application.
"I feel like it would be money well spent because it would be our local citizens using this," Marlow said.
Councilman Danny Wyatt asked if the city had consulted with John Conrad, a Cumberland County resident who has proposed building a trail around Meadow Park Lake.
"I'd like to talk to him and see what his position would be on this. I'm sure old Joe Miller could probably do some paving on it if he got him a good bed on it," Wyatt said.
Graham said, "When they brought up $1 million a mile, that's a pretty nice greenway."
Conrad was present at the meeting and agreed to meeting with the council.
He said, "I'm very keen on trails in any form...Anything we can do to expand, the better. You can't do these sort of trails with volunteers. They have to be done professionally and it costs money. I strongly endorse doing this, if it meets the priorities of the council and the people of Crossville."
Others felt there might be other projects that should be considered before appropriating funds for a greenway.
Councilman Jesse Kerley said, "I think Cumberland County is full of areas to go outside and exercise. One thing we're lacking is an indoor facility that offers an aquatic center for folks who don't have access to these school gyms and youth center. We could provide them a nice indoor walking facility, as well. I'd like to see us put all of our recreation money toward the development of an indoor facility."
An indoor recreation center was the top choice of residents at a meeting last fall on recreation opportunities, followed by a football complex and pickleball courts.
The grant application is due April 11.
"We need to know if we're not going to do the project so they don't do the work on it," said City Clerk Sally Oglesby.
The council will meet Friday, March 21, at Crossville City Hall at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the greenway and also the Habitat Conservation Plan.
The city is also developing a long-range recreation plan. Varva said an inventory of current facilities is being conducted, along with interviews with staff, and gaining public input will be important in the development of the plan to guide recreation opportunities over the next 10 to 20 years.
"Dream big," Varva said of the comprehensive plan. "It's hard to expand a plan once you have it. Usually, the plan gets smaller."
She reviewed recreation facilities other communities had completed, from aquatic centers and indoor recreation areas to smaller community playgrounds and parks, community gardens and spray parks.
The public input process will include an online survey at www.crossvilletn.gov.