The next link in the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, to be built if the city receives another $100,000 grant, will let walkers make a loop around part of the river and past a major proposed development site.
In mid-November, Macon City Council authorized application for $100,000 from the Georgia Recreational Trails Program for a new three-quarter-mile stretch of the trail.
“This will be similar to the trail sections that we have,” said Ben Hamrick, the business services manager for the Parks and Recreation Department. “It’ll be a 10-foot concrete section of trail coming down from Spring Street headed to New Street, then turning along New Street and headed up (to) Riverside Drive.”
That link would allow walkers to start at Gateway Park, cross the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge and walk up the east bank of the river, cross back on the Spring Street bridge and come down the new section to the Riverside Drive sidewalk back to Gateway Park, he said.
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“You’ll have a total loop right there,” Hamrick said.
The L-shaped trail would run through the proposed site for the $50 million Renaissance on the River development, which is planned to have a hotel, apartments and retail space.
In April, the city received another $100,000 grant from the same source, the Recreational Trails program of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to help turn the Dr. William G. Lee Camellia Gardens back into a major attraction. That money was meant to build a half-mile trail through the gardens, including a footbridge, fountain and meditation area. The segment runs from a new parking area off Glenridge Drive to link up with the existing Ocmulgee Heritage Trail in adjacent Jackson Springs Park.
The city bought the 4-acre tract, part of Lee’s estate “Tranquil Hill,” in 2008, cleared brush and tore down old buildings. In the 1920s, visitors filled Lee’s garden during the fall and winter camellia blooming season, but the attraction later fell into disrepair.
If the current grant request is approved, the city should get the news around April 2012, Hamrick said.
“These Recreational Trails grants are usually every year, and as long as we have needs for trails in Macon -- along the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail or out into the neighborhoods from the trail -- we’ll continue to apply for them,” he said.
NewTown Macon, which manages the Heritage Trail under agreement with the city, stands ready to supply the 20 percent match the grant application requires, said NewTown CEO Mike Ford.
“Here’s the situation: That is an integral section of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail,” he said.
“When the city applies for a grant for a section of the master plan, NewTown stands for the local match.”
Still on the drawing board are trails from Riverside Cemetery out to Waterworks Park, and from the cemetery back into the Pleasant Hill neighborhood, Hamrick said. Several segments on the master plan are on hold while the state works on Interstates 16 and 75 interchanges, he said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.