EASLEY – The City of Easley is hoping to break ground soon a project that would provide a greenway stretching from the J.B. “Red” Owens Sports Complex to downtown Easley.
City officials say, due to grant requirements, construction will need to begin by the end of 2013.
“The Brushy Creek Greenway is a few years old and what it will ultimately be is a greenway from the (J.B. Owens Complex) all the way to downtown Easley,” Simons said. “Right now we’re in the first phase of construction which is working between Pearson Road and the park.”
Simons said phase one has been broken up into two pieces because of grant requirements. The city has secured both a Parks and Recreation Tourism Grant and Heritage Corridor Grant for the project.
“Those grants have time limits on when that money needs to be spent and we’re approaching those,” Simons said. “We’re in good shape, but we’re approaching the deadline. I’m confident we’ll be okay.”
Simons said hurdles in the project center around a boardwalk and a bridge for the greenway.
“There are a couple of wetlands that we have to cross,” Simons said. “There are numerous environmental impacts and it just increases your cost substantially.”
The city administrator said the city acquired a DOT Transportation Enhancement Grant totaling $534,000 to help in the process. The grant asks the city to match 20 percent of the cost.
Simons said right now the city is trying to work with the Department of Transportation regarding grant and permit requirements in order to get the ball rolling on phase one.
“We’re ready to roll,” Simons said. “If we can get over these couple of hurdles we’re going to be in good shape. We’re hoping to move this along and phone calls and meetings with the DOT will become more frequent in the coming days.”
Project officials say something will be on the ground by December, but phase one of the project will stretch into the spring of 2014.
As for now, the full cost of the project has not yet been determined.
“We have an idea of where we would like to go in terms of cost, but this project will become more challenging once you get across Pearson Road,” Simons said. “We’ll have a lot of property owners to deal with throughout this project so we’ll have to see how things play out.”
Simons said the idea is to essentially connect the Brushy Creek Greenway to a future recreational trail on an eight-mile stretch of the Doodle Line. That railway was jointly purchased by the cities of Easley and Pickens earlier this year.
“We hope that you will eventually be able to walk or bike from (Easley High School) all the way to downtown Pickens,” Simons said.
Projects such as the Greenway are essential for city growth, Simons stressed.
“These projects are very important for us,” Simons said. “They help improve the quality of life in this area as well as the economic development.