Council members voted unanimously to fund $450,000 worth of work to extend the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail system into Anniston and connect to a new trailhead and future park on Monsanto Road.
“In a lot of ways, that’s the future of downtown, central Anniston,” Stewart said.
Plans for the next phase of construction will add new loops off the Gateway Trailhead, as the park is being called, bringing the system total to 25 miles of trails.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Councilman Jay Jenkins. “It creates a destination.”
Mike Poe, president of the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association, said Tuesday that the 25-mile threshold at Coldwater “will make it to the point where people may start staying overnight.”
A planned four-mile downhill stretch alone is enough to make Coldwater a major destination, enthusiasts say.
“If we have a four-mile downhill, there will be people who will drive here just to do that,” Poe said. “That’ll be kind of the signature feature of the trails that come into this parking lot.”
The funds, said the mayor, are being allocated from the city’s Alabama Trust Fund Budget, which has been maintained for the city’s commitment to the Coldwater Mountain initiative.
“This is something that is very huge for the city of Anniston as a whole, but definitely Ward 3 as well,” said Councilman Seyram Selase, noting the potential for development opportunities the project could spawn.
Plans include creating a dedicated trail to connect the Gateway Trailhead to downtown Anniston and, eventually, to the planned extension of the Chief Ladiga Trail through the Model City.
The approximately nine miles of trail loops that will connect the existing trail system to the new Gateway Trailhead are expected to be completed by June.
Poe said the city’s funding is important to keep the dirt moving and keep the trail builders building, but it’s also a vote of confidence for the project. He said it sends a message “that we are a community that is forward thinking, that we will invest in an ecotourism project that will not only bring a healthy lifestyle kind of experience for our locals, but it will bring economic development to our area with the thousands of people who will travel here to experience these trails.”
In other business, the council:
• Approved a resolution requesting the state legislature authorize Anniston to establish Sunday alcohol sales in the city.
• Approved a special events permit for the Noble Street Festival and YMCA Spring 5K Run scheduled for April 20.
• Authorized abatement measures be taken on dozens of city nuisance properties.
• Appointed Robert Patrick to the Transit Advisory Board with a term expiring July 31, 2014.
• Reappointed Harry Malone to the Anniston-Calhoun County Library Board with a term expiring Oct. 31, 2015.
• Approved an agreement to add the resurfacing of Exchange Avenue to an existing project to resurface a segment of Summerall Gate Road.
• Authorized a $24,409 purchase for Hurst Jaws of Life tools from Municipal Emergency Services.
• Rescheduled its March 12 regular meeting for Thursday, March 7.
• Approved changes to the city’s policy and procedures manual regarding city employees’ involvement in surplus property and moonlighting.
• Authorized landscaping agreement with the Auburn University Landscape Architecture Department to research and design a memorial park at site of the former Anniston Land Company Building.
• Passed a resolution establishing annual ethics training for city employees and elected officials.
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.