The eastern leg of a proposed Euchee Creek greenway project is officially off the table, officials say, and Evans residents Sean and Amy Anderson say they're thrilled.
Mrs. Anderson, a mother of two, said she's pleased "as long as it is put off for now, and hopefully, it will be put off forever."
The proposed path of the trail could have passed between their home and the creek, within 10 feet of the patio behind their Barnsley Drive residence in the Stratford subdivision.
The Andersons and others in the community feared it could provide easy access for criminals and negatively effect property values.
Preston Duffie, the community forester for Columbia County, said Thursday that public opposition from residents along the proposed leg, including the Andersons, has persuaded the county to reconsider its plans to place the trail through Stratford subdivision off Hardy McManus Road.
"What we're looking for is to create a successful prototype at a location in the county where we're embraced and from there use it to sell (the trail) down the line," he said. The controversial route along Barnsley Drive in Evans is no longer being considered, he said.
"At this point in time, we have no interest whatsoever in imposing this idea on them," Duffie said.
At a Jan. 11 meeting of county officials, the firm hired to design the trail and Stratford residents, nearly all 50 residents in attendance said they were opposed to the trail entering their subdivision.
The original master plan for the Euchee Creek greenway project called for a biking and walking trail to stretch several miles from Chamblin Road near Interstate 20 north past Patriots Park to Riverside Park on Hardy McManus Road.
A proposal to build a portion of the trail on a skirt of county-owned land between the creek and dozens of homes along Barnsley Drive raised the ire of homeowners in that area.
Though they are not opposed to green space, as parents of a son and daughter under age 7, the Andersons said they are concerned the trail could bring sexual predators and other crime to their tranquil community.
"I don't think anyone can blame these residents for being concerned about what could happen," Anderson said. He said planning a neighborhood around the trails makes more sense than building in an established neighborhood.
The county and trail designer, The Jaeger Co., of Gainesville, Ga., is negotiating with developers of future subdivisions in the Chamblin Road and Patriots Park area on a plan to link the trail through neighborhoods that are still in the planning stages.
That way, the trail is an amenity for buyers and not something imposed upon existing homeowners, Duffie said.
"We're getting a lot of those developers on board and that will make it very easy to sell this concept," Duffie said.
The greenway is still too early in the planning stages for cost estimates or timelines for construction, but Duffie said a public meeting to discuss the western end of the trail will be held at 6 p.m. April 10 at Patriots Park.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.