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City seeks to extend greenway project
council oath 1
Judge Grady Reddick issues the oath of office to Springfield City Council members Kenny Usher, Charles Hinely and Jerry Maennche. Usher and Hinely were returned to office without opposition and Maennche is starting his first term on the council. Usher also was chosen as the mayor pro tem. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Springfield is hoping to extend its greenway project, possibly with the help of a grant.

City council members approved applying for a coastal incentive grant from the state Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division. The grant, if awarded, would go toward the second  phase of the Springfield-Ebenezer Greenway.

City Manager Brett Bennett noted there is a recreational trail grant for the Jack’s Branch segment of the Springfield greenway, going around the Historic Effingham Society’s Living History Site to Early Street. The grant would help identify and plan the next phase, from Early Street to Stillwell Road and an old oxidation pond on Ash Street. The grant is strictly for planning purposes and does not have funding for any construction.

“But that can be expensive in itself,” Bennett said.

The Living History Site’s retaining wall was the result of a coastal incentive grant, Bennett added.

The maximum award for the grant is $90,000, and the city’s match can be a combination of $5,000 in cash and in-kind contribution of staff time.

If the city gets the grant, it could go a long way to determining how to turn the old ponds into greenspace.

“We talked about years ago doing something with those ponds,” said council member Charles Hinely.

Filling in the ponds could be out of the city’s reach, however.

“It’s a pretty large piece of property,” Bennett said. “Filling it in may be crazy expensive. That’s a lot of dirt to move.”

Should the city get the grant, it will allow the city to develop alternatives to filling the pond and how to put that property to public use.

“Just engineering and design for that could be $50,000,” Bennett said.

The city accepted a donation of 19 acres off Ebenezer Creek near Tommy Long Landing last November from the Georgia Conservancy. The city’s work on Springfield-Ebenezer greenway grant applications helped make the connection with the Conservancy, according to Bennett. The Ebenezer Creek is one of only four state scenic rivers.