The multi-use trail will run through the center of Marietta, connecting existing trails from Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in northwest Cobb County to the Smyrna-Atlanta Road Trail in the southeast.
After meeting several times this year in closed sessions to discuss real estate offers, the council unanimously approved the acquisition of land at 330 Roselane St., 338 Roselane St. and 277 S. Marietta Parkway, as well as property at 22 Polk St. from the Saint James Episcopal Church.
The Polk Street deal included plans to take down an existing fence and install a new fence separating the trail from the remaining church property. The deal has a year-long limit starting when the city begins construction.
Nearly $5 million of federal funds and money from the 2005 SPLOST is allocated for the trail.
The project, which includes building a pedestrian bridge over the South Loop near the Square, is vital for linking together areas of Marietta according to City Engineer Jim Wilgus.
Wilgus said the Public Works Department is dedicated to transportation improvement projects, including the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
“We are very focused on improving the quality of life, and giving everybody a better walking environment,” Wilgus said.
The city is responsible for the middle section of the county-long trail that will total 12 miles. Wilgus said the construction overseen by the Public Works Department is divided into five segments and will be separate from Cobb County’s projects.
Wilgus said the south section that is smaller and extends along South Marietta Parkway will be completed in two months.
The north and in-town sections are a year-and-half from being finished, including the new bridge that will be the most visible development, according to Wilgus.
“(The Kennesaw Mountain to Chattahoochee River trail) opens up everything south of the loop, specifically for university students to be able to get to the downtown area without having to cross over a major roadway,” Wilgus said.
Wilgus said the most complex part of the project will be going through urban areas, including around The Brumby Lofts on North Marietta Parkway.
“I support the development of a trail both from a private and a public perspective,” Councilman Philip Goldstein said.
Besides the health and transportation benefits to area residents, the trail “will attract others to Marietta to enjoy her beauty and the many attractions along the trail,” Goldstein said.
Wilgus said that because the trail will be wider than a typical sidewalk and separated from existing roads, standard easements cannot be used for the construction projects. This added extra measures to purchase the property in 52 parcels for the right of way.
All but three properties have been acquired. Wilgus said he will present the final negotiations on two properties at the next city council meeting.
The final piece has been dealing with land adjacent to the railroad owned by CSX Corp., which Wilgus said has been a slow process.
In January, the city council unanimously condemned two properties at 91 S. Marietta Parkway, a parking lot owned by Goldstein on the South Loop, and 72 Waverly Way, a parking lot owned by Goldstein’s father, Herbert.
“I have not participated in my capacity as a Councilman in decisions that involve the land I or family members own or that is adjacent to that land,” Goldstein said.
Wilgus, who reports to the council on issues of condemnation, said there is always some element of eminent domain in big projects.