Macon, Franklin work on greenway connection
Macon County and the town of Franklin are working on a collaborative project to create a new greenway connection on East Main Street.
With the new bridge and pedestrian sidewalk over the Little Tennessee River now completed, the town started looking at the possibility of constructing a trail to run underneath the bridge that would connect the greenway trail from the Mainspring Conservation Trust side of the road over to the greenway pavilion side.
The greenway property is in the town limits but is owned by the county, so the town reached out to commissioners to see if they could complete the project together. The town council offered up town maintenance labor to construct and grade the trail if the county would either put down gravel or paving.
“Councilmember David Culpepper came to me about a joint effort between the county and town to build a trail under the bridge to connect to the greenway. We can have walking paths under both bridges so people don’t have to cross the road, which can be dangerous,” County Recreation Director Seth Adams told commissioners last week. “This would be a great thing for the entire county — it makes the whole thing safer.”
Adams said it would cost about $5,000 to put down gravel and based on the one estimate he’s gotten so far, paving could cost around $17,000.
Commissioners were supportive of contributing to the project, but Commissioner Ronnie Beale said he wanted the county to reach out to the N.C. Department of Transportation to see if they would pave the trail before they make a final decision.
The town had also been hopeful the DOT would have completed the trail paving along with the bridgework, but it wasn’t included in the project scope.
Commissioners are hopeful the town will also want to collaborate with the county on another recreation project to move the dog park from Wesley’s Park. Adams said two organizations had reached out to the county about relocating the park — Clearwater Trust Fund asked it be moved because of its close proximity to wetlands and the river and Duke Power asked that it be moved because it’s right under one of their transmission lines.
Looking at alternative locations — preferably on county-owned property — Adams suggested the former drive-in movie property near Crawford Branch. The parcel is over 7 acres, but Adams said they’d only need 1.7 acres for the dog park.
“The property lays really well and we have since cleaned it up, removed some brush, so we can see what’s down there better,” he said. “If the bridge partnership goes well maybe the town will get on board with this as well.”
Commission Chairman Jim Tate said the property would work well since it already has several trees for shade — something the current park lacks — and is a perfect use for property that otherwise can’t be developed because it’s in the floodway.
Adams said they should have room for about 15 parking spots on the property. The fencing would be the biggest cost for the dog park at around $15,000, plus $4,000 for two water fountains, but Adams said it would also be beneficial to have a public restroom facility in that area since it already gets a lot of foot traffic.
“If nothing else, it cleans up an eyesore in the middle of town,” he said.
Commissioner Paul Higdon said the project would benefit town residents more so than county residents.
“Town residents are county residents,” Beale said.
Adams added that he’d be surprised at how far people out in the county travel to visit the dog park in town. Moving the park would also mean tripling the size of the large dog portion of the park and doubling the size for the small dog portion.
Tate said he would be in favor of the county taking care of the infrastructure needs if the town will work with the county on providing water and sewer services.
Beale said there had also been talk about having space for a farmers market on that property.
“I think a farmers market would tie in great there,” he said.
Tate said he would talk to town officials in the next week about cost sharing on the two projects before proceeding.