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$100K grant for Yellow River park?
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Porterdale officials last week backed an application for a grant of up to $100,000 to build a trailhead and river access at the Yellow River, part of an ongoing city and county effort to develop a natural recreation center there.

The grant, which would require a 20 percent local match that county officials said would be split evenly between Porterdale and Newton County, would build 2,000 feet of concrete trail, a boat launch turnaround, parking, signage and amenities.

If the Georgia Department of Natural Resources approves the grant, which is funded through the federal Department of Transportation, it would compliment other recent grants and SPLOST funding in transforming 27 acres along the Yellow River in Porterdale into a nature and hiking destination.

"The important part here is the scope of work they're doing in total. We need to use every avenue possible" to develop the Yellow River Park, said Maurice Carter, president of Newton Trails.

Cheryl Delk, the special projects coordinator for the county, said this grant would be an important component for tying together the old train depot, which will be converted into a rest station using another federal grant, the existing loop trail along the river, the planned boat launch and the county trail system that will link Porterdale with Turner Lake Park via Newton High School.

"It's part of a big project, but piece by piece we have to do certain elements and move on," she said.

Porterdale and Newton County would split the 20 percent local match, which can be cash or in-kind work. Delk said the county and Porterdale's Public Works Department would decide what work could be done as in-kind services. Newton County has committed some cash, she said.

Earlier this month, the city was chosen for technical and planning assistance from the National Parks Service in developing the Yellow River Park.

In 2006, Newton Trails built a quarter-mile concrete loop trail north of the downtown area. Two years later, Porterdale used a Transportation Enhancements grant, a federal grant administered by the Georgia Department of Transportation, to renovate the exterior of the train depot. It also built a mulch trail from the vacant lot across from the Porterdale Mill Lofts on Broad Street to the loop trail.

The city will use another $250,000 Transportation Enhancements grant received last year to renovate the interior of the depot into a trailhead rest station with benches, bike racks, water fountains and restrooms, city manager Bob Thomson said. It would also fund the construction of a quarter-mile concrete trail from Broad Street along Hemlock Street to the depot.

The Yellow River Park is a major component of Porterdale's economic development plan. It envisions using the river and park to draw nature-oriented recreation and tourism and lure businesses to serve those visitors.