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Old 11-19-2016, 07:00 AM
 
6,474 posts, read 5,814,320 times
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It won’t be long before “you’ll be able to go from Amerson River Park to the Ocmulgee National Monument without stepping foot on a public street,” said Thomas Reichert, who helped blaze much of the new trail with 39 others in Leadership Macon’s class of 2016. “Everybody in our class has participated in one way or the other, whether or not they were out here cutting down trees and pulling limbs.”

The trail will add about two miles to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, bringing its total length to 11 miles.

After the upcoming installation of a steel bridge that will span across a 60-foot-wide gully, the class will have completed the annual community project it announced in June.

Plans for the stretch of trail between the park and cemetery have long been in place, but were thwarted by a $2 million price tag.

Reichert said the class is nearing its goal of raising $95,000 for the trail extension, which includes sponsor naming-rights for an overlook, the bridge and some benches.

Some of the money will go toward hiring a brick artist to construct one of the overlooks along the riverbank. Eventually, Reichert said, there are plans to pave the path.

Since the Macon Water Authority blazed a trail it needed to access sewer pipes for a multimillion dollar project this year, about half of the clearing work was already completed.

NewTown Macon, a nonprofit downtown booster, pitched in about $250,000 to cover the trail with gravel. A $92,000 grant from the federal Department of Natural Resources also will help pay for the trail.

Walking through the sand alongside the wooded riverbank, broken CDs, old clothes, a tattered mattress and part of a tent were visible in what appeared to be to be an old urban campsite.

A Telegraph article from 1997 describes how Macon police cracked down on the homeless, a population that seemed to dwell along the riverbanks near Interstate 16 and Spring Street.

When the idea for a riverside trail was brought to the public in the mid 1990s, it was met with a “huge amount of public and political resistance,” said Josh Rogers, executive director of NewTown Macon. “People thought it was a terrible idea, that it would just cause more people to go down and congregate along there. That it wouldn’t be safe and no one would use it.”

Read more here: Ocmulgee Heritage Trail is two miles longer | The Telegraph
Ocmulgee Heritage Trail is two miles longer | The Telegraph
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