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Sidewalks approved in time sensitive vote
Project will link neighborhoods, amenities
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Forsyth County News

A south Forsyth sidewalk project became concrete Tuesday.

The Forsyth County commission voted 4-1, with Jim Boff opposed, to begin construction of the planned pedestrian paths.

The vote was “time sensitive,” which allows the work session action to be final, rather than shifting to the next regular meeting for a second vote.

About 1.5 miles of sidewalks on Brookwood and Caney roads will connect the residential area with the Brookwood Elementary School and Caney Creek Preserve greenspace park.

The pedestrian projects received voter approval in two rounds of the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST.

Brookwood Road sidewalks were included in the second tier projects for SPLOST VI, for which collections end in July, while Caney Road was listed in the SPLOST VII, which will kick in as soon as the previous collection ends.

The projects are in District 2, which is represented by Commissioner Brian Tam. He proposed funding a portion of each sidewalk to link the area with the new park, which opened last summer.

“This project makes a lot of sense,” he said. “What we have is a lot of foot traffic going to school and trying to get to the park.”

The estimated $300,000 in funding for the sidewalks could be advanced from transportation safety improvements in the upcoming sales tax program, said John Cunard, director of engineering.

“Any projects that we advance funding for in SPLOST VI will free up funding in SPLOST VII is the way I look at it,” Cunard said.

Tam noted that plans call for the Caney Road sidewalk to eventually extend to Old Alpharetta Road, but he recommended stopping at the park entrance for now.

The prospect of advancing the funding ruffled a couple of commissioners, who see needs for sidewalks in their districts.

Commissioner Todd Levent said the panel may want to evaluate the need for pedestrian paths countywide.

“Why don’t we bring this back and see who else has emergency sidewalk projects,” he said.

Tam made the case that the area is unique and voters had approved the specific projects.

“This community is different because we’ve opened a park and they have opened a school,” he said. “This is more densely populated.”

Levent agreed to support the vote, but said he would “look for [Tam’s] support on something else.”

Boff, the lone opposing vote, said the reasons are the same for his eastern District 5, where Haw Creek Park also opened last summer in a residential area.

“My concern is whether there’s any money after your project,” Boff said.

The supporting commissioners agreed that the density in District 2 qualified the project for traffic safety improvement funding from the sales tax.

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills asked staff to review opportunities for funding sidewalks around Haw Creek Park on Echols Road.

“It definitely needs some connectivity with those schools and those subdivisions,” Mills said.