Forsyth County has secured the final land agreement that clears the way for the next phase of the Big Creek Greenway.
Commissioners voted 5-0 on Thursday to accept an agreement to reroute a portion of the popular recreational trail’s fourth phase in return for a donation of the land for the path.
The agreement with the Martha K. Wayt and Josephine Wayt Williams trusts will shift the path from the Bethelview trailhead from a planned route through the 31-acre property to the southern and eastern edges.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the county will be responsible for the costs of the redesign, but the agreement solves an issue that could have proved costlier.
“This is the product of quite a bit of negotiation,” Jarrard said. “We’re hopeful this will be in the best interest of the citizens, who will save hopefully a little bit of money in what would have otherwise been a condemnation acquisition.”
Commissioner Todd Levent represents the district that includes the property. He expressed concern about language in the agreement that could affect homeowners in the Castlebrooke subdivision, who will now have the path running behind their houses.
The Wayt property owners cannot “reasonably refuse” an access license by requesting homeowners to get on the greenway, according to the agreement.
Levent took issue with the possibility that they could deny that access, but felt comfortable with the clause after discussing the county’s ability to step in.
After the meeting, Tim Allen, Forsyth’s assistant director of engineering, said this months-long process to secure an agreement with the Wayt property owners represents the final land acquisition needed before work can begin on the fourth phase.
The 2.8-mile section will extend the trail from its current end at the Bethelview Road trailhead along Kelly Mill Road to Johnson Road. Parking for the new phase has not been determined.
Allen expects the county could ask for construction bids on the project as early as March.
The costs are estimated at about $2.8 million, which will come from the 2008 voter-approved $100 million parks, recreation and green space bond.
The planned 5.5-mile fifth phase will eventually extend the greenway to Sawnee Mountain Preserve, though Allen said a timeframe for that section has not been determined. The design is complete, however the right of way has not been acquired.