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Mansfield splits vote on trail grant application
Newton Trails

MANSFIELD, Ga. - Following his first-ever town hall meeting, Mansfield Mayor Jefferson Riley used his first-ever tie-breaking vote Monday evening when the Mansfield City Council split its vote on a resolution to partner with Newton Trails for a grant application for the paving of Cricket Frog Trail.

Riley said the grant's total cost is $200,000, which the city would pay up front. Then, within 30 to 60 days, the city would be reimbursed for 80 percent, or $160,000, of that cost. The grant is through the Department of Natural Resources.

“Newton Trails has committed to doing everything within their power to raise the $40,000 so that Mansfield would be out $0,” he said.

Councilwoman Lisa Dunn said she would not be voting in favor of the resolution because she did not want to risk burdening the city with a $40,000 expense.

“If we are approved for the grant and we turn it down, it could make the city look bad, but the city is potentially going to be out $40,000, so a vote ‘yes’ is a vote to spend $40,000 because we have not been assured we will get that money back,” she said. “I personally am going to vote ‘no’ because I’ve spoken to many people here and they have expressed the fact that no one is against the trail, they’re just against spending $40,000 or any money at all towards the trail.”

Riley said it is a great opportunity for the city.

“I think it was very nice of Newton Trails to consider Mansfield and not to leave us out,” he said. “They could’ve gone to Covington or actually Newton County and asked them to do the grant, but the fact that they asked The City of Mansfield to do is, I was honored that they considered us.”

Councilman Chris Fulmer said the grant application seemed like a no-risk decision for the city.

When brought to a vote, Dunn and Councilman Bryan Hale voted against the resolution, which Fulmer and Councilwoman Helen Robertson voted in favor. Riley split the vote with an in-favor vote to apply for the grant in conjunction with Newton Trails. 

According to the Newton Trails website, the Cricket Frog Trail is a 15-mile rail trail running through central Newton County, along the route once traveled by the Central of Georgia Railroad.  Currently, approximately 6.5 miles of mostly primitive trail are open for public use.