Harlem, GA -
Thousands are on their way to Fort Gordon, and cities near the post are getting ready for the boom. As housing construction picks up, the City of Harlem is working on another way to serve its citizens.
Columbia County is growing rapidly with new development in Evans and Grovetown, and now Harlem is ready to jump on the train. City leaders have just finished a master plan for more than 14 miles of greenways and trails through the town. With funds in hand, the city is almost ready to break ground.
This small, quiet creek is one feature drawing city leaders to this part of woods outside of Downtown Harlem.
The city has been working for four years to get funding, and design the miles of greenways and trails that will flow throughout the area.
"We think it will be a great benefit for the citizens and make Harlem more walkable and will provide more recreational opportunities," said City Manager Jason Rizner.
City Manager Jason Rizner said the city has applied numerous times for grant funding, and has been unsuccessful.
With the completed 81-page master plan, Rizner said it will give the department more edge when applying for Georgia Recreational Trails Grant, which would give the city $100,000.
"We think with this new trails plan in place, and some additional funds that the city has available through penny-sales tax dollars that we will be able to make it a reality," said Rizner.
The first phase of the trails network system is a mile-long stretch called the Sandy Run Creek Trail. Much of this area and other projected paths are already cleared making construction easier and cheaper.
"We are also looking at some connecting trails that would allow some of the outlying neighborhoods to access the city street network using golf carts," said Rizner.
The total price tag on the first phase of the project is $250,000, and Rizner believes the new trails will be a draw for people moving into the area.
"We are excited about the Fort Gordon growth and what that means for Harlem,” said Rizner.
Rizner said whether or not Harlem receives the state grant, work should begin on the initial phase of the Sandy Run Creek Trail at the beginning of 2015 and it should be complete by the end of next year.