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Additional funds for a Carolina Thread Trail project in Indian Land were approved during Lancaster County Council’s meeting Monday, July 28.
Presented to council by County Administrator Steve Willis, the project includes portions of the Carolina Thread Trail in Indian Land’s Walnut Creek subdivision. The project hit a snag this month when it entered into a cost overrun situation.
He said the thread trail project, part of a larger, interconnected network of greenways throughout the Carolinas, is now faced with a $20,478 cost overrun.
The overrun, he said, is mainly due to trail modifications as a result of added residential lots in the neighborhood, as well as several areas where the trail had to be located closer to Twelve Mile Creek than planned due to existing sewer line easements.
“The end result is that some sections that were contemplated to be regular trail had to be switched to hardened trail segments,” Willis told council. “The cost per linear foot of regular trail is $3 while the same for hardened trail is $9.”
To complete the project as designed it would cost another $20,478. Original funding for the project consisted of $110,369 from the thread trail grant system, as well as $7,500 from a local cash grant match, which is earmarked for signage, benches and pet stations.
On hand to answer questions about the overrun, and to ask council for the funds, was county Parks and Recreation Director Hal Hiott.
“A third of the trail is just about completed,” Hiott said. “But in order for the contractor to start on the second phase of the trail, we need to know how much money they will have to work with.”
County planning director Penelope G. Karagounis also urged council to provide the funds.
“We desperately need this money to proceed with the 3.5-mile trail. If it’s not possible, then we need to look at other sources, possibly a new grant,” Karagounis said. “You can tell that a lot of work has been done already out there.”
In reviewing the county’s accounts, County Finance Director Veronica Thompson said there is a possible option for funding the overrun.
“There is some funding left over from past developer funds and it’s up to council if they want to use it,” Thompson said.
Hiott also mentioned an added amenity identified by the contractor, Blue Ridge Trail Works, that is not included in the overrun costs.
“There is an amenity to add to the trail where you could have a picnic area, with a bench to sit on and rest, and we would need some bridges,” Hiott told council. “This is an amenity and would be extra.”
Councilman Larry Honeycutt suggested approving only the cost overrun and waiting on the extra amenities.
“Maybe you can do a grant and fund the amenity that way,” Honeycutt said.”This is a great project and we don’t need to hold it up.”
Sheriff’s office substation
Willis also provided council with an update on a second cost overrun; construction of a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office substation in Indian Land.
He said the original design cost estimates were $50,000 and council had allocated that amount.
However, once the design was completed and bids for the work were received, the lowest bid came in at $66,352.28. As such, Willis said there is a cost overrun of $16,352.28. The original $50,000 was allocated from the Indian Land Contribution Fund.
Based on information provided by Thompson, Willis suggested funding both the Thread Trail and substation projects using the Indian Land Contribution Fund, which currently has $24,593.28. The funds, which were given to the county by past developers, have been in existence for many years and are generally restricted, though both projects would qualify for the funds.
But with questions about final cost numbers for the substation, council decided only to fund the Thread Trail overrun, unanimously approving $20,478 be used from the IL Contribution Fund.
That leaves $4,115.28 in the fund, which could eventually be used to pay for some of the substation overrun costs if council chooses, Willis said.
“That was not funded yet, but it will probably come up at council’s next meeting on Aug. 11,” Willis said. “Council wanted to see if that’s the final numbers and to make sure the sheriff’s office won’t need computers, furniture, or anything like that.”
The balance for the substation, about $12,237, could then be covered using developer public safety funds, Willis said.
“Due to the timing of the project, we may need to front the balance from the General Fund and allow it to be reimbursed when the developer funds become available,’ Willis told council.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416