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P'dale disappointed over trail grant
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Porterdale officials expressed disappointment in the county deciding not to apply for a $100,000 funding from the Georgia Recreational Trails Program through the Department of Natural Resources.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted to deny applying for the funding at their Nov. 20 meeting. The $100,000 would have been used to fulfill a shortfall on 1.5 mile trail in the Porterdale Yellow River Park and Phase I of the Turkey Creek Yellow River Trail.

The Georgia Recreational Trails Program is a reimbursement program that required a 20 percent match of the $100,000, or $25,000. The county and city of Porterdale would have been required to match the funding with $12,500 each.

However, the board had concerns with applying for the grant because the money wasn't budgeted; it was unclear of how much money was available to provide the $12,500 match; and it wasn't immediately clear if the city of Porterdale would have the money available to provide their portion of the grant.

After some discussion, the board unanimously voted to deny applying for the funding.

In a statement from Porterdale city manager Bob Thomson, he said the city has received more than $700,000 in grant money for parks and trail development over the past two years, which all required some sort of match and that the mayor and the council were committed to their Yellow River Park and trail system.

He explained that the 2011 SPLOST allocation for Porterdale for recreation was $140,000 and that $98,000 of that funding would be used as a match for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, leaving $42,000 for other projects.

Thomson added that the allocation for transportation and infrastructure was $240,000, of which $78,000 was earmarked as the match for the (train) depot TE grant and $11,000 for the existing recreational trails grant. He said that would leave $151,000 for projects that can include trails and paved walkways.

"Porterdale, like the county, is conservative by necessity with the use of taxpayer's money. However, the mayor and the council recognize that our trail and park system is part of a whole, and we're careful to leave money unallocated for opportunities that arise such as the Recreational Trails grant," he said.

"An inquiry to the city would have revealed Porterdale's ability to provide the matching funds. Significantly, this particular grant allows the use of "in-kind" services such as city crews' salary for a task specific to the project."