Bragg Jam pledges $40,000 for new Ocmulgee canoe take-out

pramati@macon.comNovember 12, 2013 

Bragg Jam’s Tuesday morning announcement of a $40,000 donation to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail wasn’t too big of a surprise.

After all, Macon’s largest music festival has donated about $200,000 to the community, most of which has been used to maintain and enhance the trail over the past several years.

This time, however, Bragg Jam board President Jamie Weatherford presented a $10,000 check -- the first of four installments -- to Friends of the Trail Executive Committee Chairman Chris Sheridan. The money will be used to build a canoe take-out area on the Ocmulgee River where it intersects with Bowman Creek.

“We’re excited today to announce the building of the Bragg Jam canoe take-out,” Weatherford said at a news conference at Amerson River Park. “This will be a real serious brick-and-mortar project.”

A canoe take-out at the site has always been part of NewTown Macon’s master plan for the trail. But when the state Department of Transportation awarded NewTown $5 million to execute the master plan and build the park and other parts of the trail, there wasn’t enough money left for the canoe take-out at that site.

The new canoe launch will go along with the J. Hall Memorial Canoe Launch located farther north on the river.

“Bragg Jam really saved the day,” NewTown President and CEO Mike Ford said. “It was really important that when we ran out of grant money that people like Bragg Jam stepped in and helped out. We couldn’t do it without help.”

Sheridan said the trail survives thanks to public-private partnerships with organizations such as Bragg Jam.

“It’s going to turn into a pretty doggone neat spot,” he said.

The take-out site will be located about two miles down river from the existing canoe launch. Weatherford said it would take someone about two to two-and-a-half hours to float from one site to the other, depending on how high the river is that day.

Since the new take-out site is located within the park, it would mean that people floating on the river would be able to keep their cars inside the park and walk to them after they were done. Currently, people using the river from the launch must get out at Spring Street. That usually means parking at Spring Street and having to arrange transportation to the park.

Ford said construction on the take-out would begin by Jan. 1 and continue during 2014.

Construction won’t affect regular use of the park, including the existing canoe launch.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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