The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted on a reroute of a northern section of the Big Creek Greenway after discussions failed to appease neighbors.
At a work session on Tuesday, the BOC voted 4-0-1, with Chairman Pete Amos recused as he “may or may not” own land on one of the routes, to adopt a new route that would instead go around the two neighborhoods in question for Phase 5 of the Greenway.
That new path was opted for instead of a change that would essentially move the trail from going in front of homes on Mountain Valley Circle and Valley Lane to cutting behind and through lots on Conley Drive. Both routes would eventually go to Canton Highway, or Hwy. 20.
Neither neighborhood was in favor of the plan that would run through their lots, and it appears both those tensions and neighborhoods were avoided with the new plans.
“What we have looked at is another proposal,” Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt said before the vote. “This route crosses a rather large piece of county property, and then it drops off into another vacant piece of property that adjoins State Route 20, Canton Highway, that we could then put a trailhead on.”
The new route would run in an area between Crestbrook Drive and Blount Construction on Canton Highway and across the highway from the Sawnee Mountain Preserve.
Merritt said that while it does avoid the neighborhoods, the new route does have its own issues. Among those is that the county would need to buy a piece of property, and the route would be just under a mile away from Spot Road, which is where the Greenway is planned to go before reaching Sawnee Mountain.
“If we do this, we’re pretty well stuck on the south side of Sawnee Mountain for a time. When [the Georgia Department of Transportation] widens Canton Highway, we would ask them to give us a way to cross Canton Highway,” Merritt said. “Then we’ll have to make a decision. Do we stay up on the mountain and zigzag across the mountain, or do we turn and follow State Route 20, then intersect with our original route on Spot Road?”
If the route were to pass through the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, then bicycles and dogs would not be allowed on that section.
That path would also affect the subarea plan in the northern section of the county that has been recently discussed to connect Sawnee Mountain with neighborhoods, shopping centers and other areas through trails.
“All the plans we’ve been making on our subarea plan … is based upon coming into this Phase 5,” said Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills. “All that plan that has been put together by that Spot Road connection.”
When Hwy. 20 is eventually widened, Merritt said the county could talk to GDOT to look into ways to more easily cross the road.
“It could be an intersection – I kind of doubt it – or a red light. More likely would be probably a pedestrian bridge or a tunnel to get across Hwy. 20,” Merritt said.
A separate issue on a current portion of the Greenway was also brought before the board.
Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor said that a current wooden portion of the Greenway has become detached from the ground, and county efforts have not been able to solve the issue.
“Just north of where it crosses Union Hill Road, we have a 200-foot section of boardwalk. That section is no longer anchored to the ground, so when we get some good rains, it kind of raises and lowers with the tide,” Pryor said. “As it goes up and down the integrity of it is starting to suffer, and I’d best describe it as cattywampus right now.”
Repairing that section of the Greenway would cost $102,600 to demolish and rebuild. The change was passed unanimously by the board