With voters rejecting a new transportation sales tax, the group behind the Braselton LifePath got some help from the Braselton Town Council on Monday to build the multi-use path.
The Braselton Community Improvement District (CID) is installing a 10-foot wide multi-use path that will connect residents and businesses along Ga. Hwy. 211 and Thompson Mill Road (Ga. Hwy. 347). The 1.7-mile paved path will be open to pedestrians, cyclists and those driving golf carts.
Once completed, the LifePath will provide connecting access to Chateau Elan, Mulberry Walk, The Falls of Braselton, The Village of Deaton Creek and Northeast Georgia Medical’s Center new hospital on Thompson Mill Road.
The LifePath is being funded by a self-taxing group of commercial property owners in the CID, which spans Barrow, Gwinnett and Hall counties. Last year, the CID board of directors got a $455,000 loan to build the LifePath.
But now, the group says that money won’t be enough to construct both phases of the LifePath.
“We have run into some unexpected costs, due to the signal crossing area — having to have those redrawn — and acquisition (of easements) and some power line problems and a couple of other issues,” said Scott Snedecor, chairman of the Braselton CID board of directors.
In addition, the CID is expecting less revenue because of declining tax digests, he explained. Meanwhile, the board of directors is on the verge of starting construction on the LifePath.
“I think we’ve come a long ways and we’re actually on the verge of getting this thing going,” Snedecor said. “I think it’s going to be a big benefit to the community in a broad sense.”
In August, the CID board of directors named a contractor to install the LifePath with both phases of construction costing $487,881.
If voters approved the measure, the CID was hoping it could use revenue from the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) to pay for the LifePath in the Gwinnett County portion of town.
But since voters overwhelmingly turned down T-SPLOST in July, the CID has been left to determine how it will fund the LifePath when its lowest bid cost more than its loan for the project.
That’s why the CID turned to the Braselton Town Council for some help.
The group asked the town council to earmark a total of $268,000 ($128,000 for phase one and $140,000 for phase two) in Gwinnett County sales tax to install the LifePath in that portion of Braselton.
“That money can only be spent in Gwinnett County and only on public roads and sidewalks,” said town manager Jennifer Dees, who also serves on the Braselton CID board of directors. “We have very few in Gwinnett that are public.”
While Braselton spans into Gwinnett County, most of that is located in Chateau Elan — a gated community with private streets.
Last year, the town council used its Gwinnett County sales tax money earmarked for roads and bridges to construct a new park around a large pecan tree in the Mulberry Park roundabout. It also funded a small portion of the LifePath along Thompson Mill Road — from the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 211 to The Gates of Braselton entrance — using Gwinnett County sales tax revenue.
Dees said Braselton currently has about $1 million in Gwinnett County sales tax revenue earmarked for roads and bridges.
Guy Herring, the administrator of the Braselton CID, said the first phase of the LifePath will be installed along Ga. Hwy. 211 from the Braselton Mulberry RiverWalk parking lot to the new alignment of Ga. Hwy. 347 and up the existing Thompson Mill Road to The Woodlands at Chateau Elan. The second phase will be constructed from the Woodlands to the Village at Deaton Creek.
“Construction could begin within the next month and we’re look at six to eight months (to complete),” Herring said.