ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Money talks, and Alpharetta walks.
City officials endorsed two grant applications Oct. 5 worth more than $3 million in new funding for the Alpha Loop, two multi-use trails encircling the city’s business core.
City officials said the $30 million trail system, being built in stages as funding becomes available, has already proven a major amenity for businesses and the general public. The venture is being funded with tax dollars and through incentives to businesses located along the path.
Councilman John Hipes said the grant applications would be a boon for the city, putting it in the running to more than double its own investment on an amenity that promotes health.
“Any time we can get three and a-half million dollars granted to us in exchange for a one and a-half million contribution for anything is great government,” he said. “This is a great way to get people outdoors, walking, out of their cars, getting from one place to another.”
Work on the 5.5-mile outer loop — running from downtown east to Avalon, then south to Northwinds — has yet to begin. But the 3.3-mile inner loop is well underway.
City officials said the two grants would add significant connectivity to the portions of the inner trail already built.
The first application, a state Land and Water Conservation Grant, is for $500,000 and would require the city to match it with $500,000 of its own money. The combined $1 million would help fund a small section just south of Old Milton Parkway that would link up to the trail already underway farther south to Westside Parkway. The small section has an estimated cost of $1.75 million.
The North Fulton Community Improvement District, a self-taxing group of commercial property owners, has already contributed $250,000 to the design costs for the section.
Alpharetta Community Development Director Cathi Cook said the North Fulton CID may be open to contributing further, but its board is not scheduled to meet again until November, after the deadline for the grant applications.
The second grant application is for $3 million through the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program. The grant would obligate the city to match the grant with at least $1 million. The money would also be targeted for the inner loop path running from Old Milton Parkway to Westside Parkway.
Cook said the Georgia Department of Natural Resources looks for grant applications that include projects that benefit the community and that have drawn funding assistance from other local sources. It also looks for projects that are well-planned.
“We’ve been planning this for five years,” Cook said.
Combined with the city’s matching funds, the Alpha Loop project could receive a total of $5 million if the grants are awarded. Total cost of the section targeted is $5.5 million.
The state will not announce the grant awards until next fall, and the city’s obligation to pay its share wouldn’t come until then. Because of this, the city would need to factor the expense into its next fiscal year budget — not the current one.
The city operates on a fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30, and the 2022 budget won’t be drafted and finalized for another 10 months.
Mayor Jim Gilvin said the Alpha Loop is a major project that addresses quality of life and economic development.
“It’s also a major expense,” he said. “So, it’s great to have staff digging in every corner, looking for opportunities to partner like this.”