Cornelius looks to extend Bailey Road greenway to U.S. 21
by Staff Writer
by Will Bryant
CORNELIUS – The town is moving forward on a $2.15 million project to extend the greenway at Bailey Road Park west to U.S. 21.
The Cornelius Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to proceed Monday night, Oct. 17, after hearing from Troy Fitzsimmons, director of the Cornelius Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture Department.
Earlier this month, the parks department received a grant from the N.C. Department of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation that will pay the construction costs of extending the greenway. The town will have to pay for the design, permitting and acquisition of the property.
On Monday night, Fitzsimmons showed commissioners three routes that the greenway could take to get to U.S. 21.
One route would take the greenway along the edge of the Glen Ridge neighborhood, which would be ideal since the town owns some property along that route, Fitzsimmons said.
The second option is building the path parallel to Bailey Road, and the third alternative would take a southern route along the border of the Caldwell Station community.
During the presentation, Fitzsimmons also raised the idea to connect the proposed extension with the existing Rocky River South Prong and McDowell Creek greenways. The existing trails sit only fractions of a mile from the end of the existing trail at Bailey Road Park and the newly proposed trail-end at Caldwell Station. But the town would have to pay the cost of connecting the trails.
The town will now hire a consultant to look at all of the options and find the most cost-effective route, Fitzsimmons said.
“When someone gives you $2 million to complete an item on your priority list, it absolutely shoots to the top,” Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte said. Construction on the project could start within 18 months, Tarte said.
In other business Monday night, commissioners:
• Unanimously agreed to amend the 2012 fiscal year budget to complete the Cornelius Veteran’s Monument and pay for two of the town’s fire trucks. Because of an increase in the amount of names collected for the memorial, the cost of project has increased to $190,000.
As of Oct. 17, revenues for the project totaled $184,611, including a $50,000 commitment from the town, $86,361 from donations and $48,250 in pledges, according to the meeting agenda released by the town.
Commissioners approved an $81,226 budget amendment to complete the project, which enables the town to shoulder the remaining costs upfront while supporters fulfill their pledges over a period of years.
The amendment also includes $125,000 to pay off two fire trucks. One vehicle is scheduled to be paid off in 2013 and the other in 2014. Prepayment of these two vehicles will save the town about $7,500 in interest.
• Lent approval to the Stewart Group, a local real estate investment group, for a one-year development period towards the construction of a new building on the corner of Catawba Avenue and Main Street in the downtown area. The building would be constructed on the site of the town’s former police department if, after one year, the town board approves the building’s design, style, surrounding infrastructure and use.
“Really, what we accomplished last night was (getting) the contract with the town to work on it for a year,” David Stewart, of the Stewart Group, said. “So conceptually, we know what we would like to see there, but the next step is to find out who the potential users might be.”
According to the Stewart Group, the proposed 15,000-square-foot building would have two occupied stories but present a three-story facade. It would compliment the surrounding buildings in the area, and overlook the planned commuter rail station.
Stewart has 10 years of experience redeveloping infill sites in Davidson, Charlotte and Salisbury, and recently completed renovating Stowe’s Exxon in Davidson into Stowe’s Corner, the current location of the Flat Iron Grill.
“We cleared a lot of hurdles last night, and now we can start working on it,” Stewart said.
• Agreed unanimously to create a Cornelius Rail Task Force, a group that will focus solely on the impact the proposed Red Line rail project would have on the town.
“What we envision for the task force would be a group of citizens, town staff and elected officials who would take a closer look at the operational issues that we need to get our head around,” Tarte said.
Commissioners also want the task force to:
• Study the project’s financing, legal structure and capital and operating budgets.
• Consider how to build infrastructure, like parking lots, surrounding the line and its Cornelius stations. After that we will need to focus on how to move people to and from the station within the town, Tarte said.
“We have already identified where the stop is going to be,” Tarte said. “Now we need to find out how to do more on the operational plan.”