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March 11, 2014

Oconee River Greenway Phase 2 nearly complete

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Oconee River Greenway Foundation (ORGF) is hosting its annual community meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Campus Black Box Theatre at 135 W. Hancock St.

“With spring approaching, the Oconee River Greenway Foundation is looking for volunteers to help with events, cleanups and trail maintenance at the park,” said ORGF President Sarah Hamil. “I am looking forward to greeting the community and sharing our plans for 2014.”

Oconee River Greenway Authority (ORGA) Executive Director Dr. Heather Langston will provide updates on the construction of Phase 2 and the Lower Fishing Creek Trail (that connects the park to South Elbert Street).

Attendees will also hear an update on the Selma Erwin Nature Preserve. Other board members such as community outreach leader Colin Moore and treasurer Jack Morris will give presentations about Greenway events and goals for 2014. Afterward, the community will have the opportunity to sign up to become a Friend of the Greenway.

The foundation assigns Greenway tasks to smaller committees.

Wednesday’s gathering will feature breakout sessions for volunteers to sign up in needed areas.

Park expansion means more maintenance responsibility.

“That’s why volunteers are so important,” Hamil said.

Weekly cleanup days are expected for 2014.

Moore mentioned a 5K event coordinating with Phase 2’s grand opening scheduled for May 17. Again, volunteers would help.

Heavy rains during last year’s spring and summer months delayed Phase 2.

In early October 2013, a 33-ton capacity 70 feet by 10 feet bridge was installed over Tanyard Creek allowing Phillips Brothers and other subcontractors access to complete the northward expansion.

Total construction costs hover around $1.3 million. The Greenway received a grant and $150,000 in SPLOST funds together with Bicycling Club of Milledgeville and Greenway foundation contributions to make the projects happen.

One mile of 10-foot concrete trails north of the river bridge, a boardwalk over Phase 1 wetlands, overlooks and a more permanent concert stage make up the expansion set to open in May.

“This doubles the area people can enjoy at the Greenway,” Hamil said. “Everyone can spread out a little more. You’ll be discovering a different part of your community that people haven’t seen before.”

Creation of a 1.1-acre off-lease dog park highlights Phase 2 also. The park will be handicap accessible featuring water fountains, dog stations and picnic tables.

“The addition of the dog park is going to be huge because there really is a need for somewhere to take your dog to let them run off the leash,” Hamil said.

A large and welcome portion of the Greenway work is the Greene Street extension project. The extended driveway is the new, safer entrance.

The current Hancock Street entrance is closed to all but non-vehicular traffic. Directional signs off Hancock and Elbert streets will help visitors acclimate to entering down Greene.

For 2014, there are new benefits for becoming a Friend of the Greenway including 50 percent off space rental at the Greenway’s community yard sales and a 2-for-1 kayak rental from Oconee Outfitters.

Other perks include 10 percent off purchases in Frank’s Friends Used Bookstore in the Mary Vinson Memorial Library, admission to Georgia’s Old Capital Museum and purchases in the Trading Post.

The ORGA aspires to connect green spaces from north to south creating a natural corridor that improves river access, increases recreational and educational activity and boosts economic potential. Greenway Phase 2 and acquisition of the 250-acre Selma Irwin Nature Trail link these goals.

A transportation grant earmarked for Greenway Phase 3 could do even more to connect the space to Georgia College and other key educational and industrial community locations.

The Greenway volunteer work provides an opportunity for the middle Georgia community to capitalize on a great Oconee River resource and deliver citizen benefits of increased recreational opportunities, historic preservation, education, conservation of our environment, as well as the opportunity for economic development.

For additional information call Moore at 478-387-4916, email info@oconeerivergreenway.org or email Hamil at sarahhamil@tllsga.org. Information is also available on the Greenway website at www.oconeerivergreenway.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oconeerivergreenway.  

 

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