Discussion of the East Coast Greenway dominated the Glynn County Commission’s Thursday meeting. Commissioners denied a motion to have the PATH Foundation create a proposal for a mainland master trail plan and endorsed a recommendation that the Georgia legislature appropriate at least $1 million for the planning and construction of the greenway.
Ben Slade, former director of the St. Simons Land Trust, spoke on behalf of the Atlanta-based PATH Foundation and Coastal Georgia Greenway, urging commissioners to think of the potential economic boost that the proposed bike and walking trail could bring to Glynn.
The greenway, as it is currently proposed, aims to link paths and trails along the coast to allow people to travel the entire length of the U.S. East Coast without using a road. Very little has been added to the greenway along Georgia’s 100-mile coast, but, according to Slade, all of the other coastal counties have either started the process of adding more trail, endorsed the $1 million appropriation or both.
Most of the concerns voiced by commissioners were about money.
A motion to approve a request to have the PATH Foundation create a proposal for a mainland trail master plan failed 4-2.
Commissioners said there was no way they could justify paying for trails while the pay for first responders is still as low as it is, and because there are higher priorities when it comes to infrastructure than creating walking paths. The staffing issue in the planning and zoning office was also cited. The commission said they were in favor of sidewalks for traveling purposes, but not recreational trails.
When it came to the endorsement, Mark Stambaugh and Richard Strickland specifically were worried about what would happen once the trails are complete.
“Who is going to pay for this? Someone else may pay for it, but the county may end up with the maintenance of it,” Strickland said.
Stambaugh had similar concerns, saying he didn’t trust the state to give them a fair deal when it comes time for the county to take ownership of the trails.
The remaining four commissioners were in favor of the project, on the grounds that it would bring economic growth, improve quality of life and because they didn’t want to be the only county along the coast that doesn’t contribute to the greenway in some way.
A motion to endorse the appropriation passed 4-2.
In other business, the commission appointed Commissioner Allen Booker, Stambaugh and citizen volunteer Bob Blackwell to serve on the board of the Glynn-Brunswick Land Bank, amended local ordinance to restrict parking at Frederica Park to only those using the park and approved an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources and allocated $9,000 for the purpose of fixing a portion of the St. Simons Island Marina.
The next meeting of the Glynn County Commission will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in the Old Glynn County Courthouse, 701 G St. in Brunswick.