Columbia County officials recently approved design fees to redraw plans for what will soon become Savannah Rapids Park.
Savannah Rapids Pavilion and the surrounding property along the head gates and canal have undergone lots of renovations during the past few years, including the first phase of the park project work.
Columbia County commissioners approved the extra design fees at a Jan. 17 meeting, raising the total for the second phase of the project to $40,280, said Mark Chostner, the county's Construction and Maintenance Division interim director.
The county was awarded a $500,000 Transportation Enhancement grant in 2004 from the Georgia Department of Transportation. Though consultants have already designed the second phase of the project to include more trails, parking and picnic areas, the drawings must be formatted to meet DOT specifications before they can be reviewed and approved, Chostner said.
"The design fees were in support of that specific TE money ... If it's GDOT money, you have to make sure you jump through the GDOT hoops," Chostner said, adding that he is unsure of the exact total of the recently approved consultant fees. "We're thankful to have that money, and we've got to meet all their requirements. That's just part of the deal."
Columbia County officials say they are pleased to approve the fees and reformatting of the park plans to get it under way. The project's first phase has been completed and included renovations of the Savannah Rapids Pavilion outbuildings such as the barbecue pit, picnic shelter, gatekeeper's cottage, visitors center and dance pavilion, said Barry Smith, the county's Community and Leisure Services division director.
In conjunction with the Augusta Canal Authority, construction of a new 10-foot-wide pedestrian bridge across the canal near Reed Creek began in early January and should be completed by the end of May, said Dayton Sherrouse, the executive director of the Augusta Canal Authority.
"The thing that I am so happy about is the (connection) between the existing bike path on Evans to Locks Road," Smith said. "It is going to continue down in the woods beside the parking lot and it will come all the way to the foot bridge that goes across over the canal. So that is going to be a nice connect for bike folks as well as for walker, joggers, whatever."
Smith said he expects clearing and other site work to begin on the second phase of Savannah Rapids Park in the next four to six weeks. It is still unclear how long the second phase will take.
"It's going to be nice," Smith said.
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