More than 50 people attended a meeting Thursday to discuss a joint proposal by the city of Brooklet and the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners to extend the S&S Greenway to downtown Brooklet. About 35 people were present at an earlier, similar meeting in Brooklet on Monday, said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch.
The public hearings were held to get residents’ input on a 3.1-mile extension of the public walking and biking path, from the Five Point roundabout at Burkhalter Road to West Lane Street in Brooklet. The city and county plan to submit a competitive grant application for over $1 million.
That would cover the “raw trail,” but not restrooms and some signage, he said. A recently approved 1 percent Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) would also support the project, which is eligible for funding through the federal “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” Transportation Alternatives Fund.
The current trail was built in 2013 and starts at a trailhead on Gentilly Road, passes underneath Veterans Memorial Parkway and goes to Cawana Road. From there, the path continues along S&S Railroad Bed Road to a second trailhead at the intersection of Burkhalter Road and Pretoria Rushing Road.
The project was mostly funded through several previous grants exceeding a total of $1 million, awarded to Bulloch County and Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation.
Residents at both meetings listened to a presentation by Bulloch County Recreational Director Mike Rollins, then asked questions. Many submitted feedback via a printed poll that was distributed, and wrote comments and suggestions on the poll sheets.
Couch said the meetings seemed to be “largely positive” in favor of the proposal.
Most people polled praised the current trail’s security and safety, as well as its upkeep (managed by Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation). Many said the trail extension would increase their use of the trail through biking, walking or jogging.
The Statesboro Herald acquired copies of the anonymous polls, and most people taking the poll added personal comments in favor of the project.
One person suggested connecting the trail to Statesboro’s Willie McTell Trail. Another said Bulloch County needs more safe green spaces.
Others expressed approval but mentioned concerns about the junction of the current trail and the proposed new extension.
One person suggested the Five Points roundabout “needs more signage.” Another wrote, “Think hard about the Five Points Circle!”
None of the people polled said they were college or university students.
The greenway will be developed by the Bulloch Greenways Partnership, made up of the Recreation Department, the Bulloch Greenways Steering Committee, Georgia Southern University and area government agencies. The goal is to make non-motorized recreation opportunities, such as walking, biking and jogging, more convenient for area residents.
There was no action taken during the meetings, which were solely for gathering public input.
Couch said the grant would fund landscaping, the actual 12-feet-wide trail, some signage and bike racks. Restrooms and interpretive signs “would be on us,” he said. There was some discussion about possible electronic “walk/don’t walk” signs at the roundabout.
The new extension would run parallel to Josh Hagin Road, all the way to Grimshaw Road. After that, the rest of the way to Brooklet would likely be a narrower trail that does not run parallel to a roadway, he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.