The Canton City Council approved an $8.1 million contract to extend a trail along the Etowah River from Heritage Park to Boling Park during its meeting on Thursday.

Council members approved awarding the contract for the Etowah River Trail Extension Project to Strack, Inc. Completion of the trail would link Etowah River Park, Heritage Park and Boling Park with an uninterrupted path. This project is the second phase of the Old Ball Ground Sewer Replacement Project that was completed in 2017, and continuation of the city’s trail system.

The project has been budgeted for construction in 2021, and is expected to begin this month, and be completed within 18 months.

City Manager Billy Peppers also went over the city roadmap, which details a number of guiding principles for helping the city grow and prosper. This road map was discussed during the council retreat Oct. 11-13.

The first guiding principle that Peppers presented is to create neighborhoods that are safe, attractive, connected, and inviting, citing these aspects as the foundation of Canton’s hometown appeal. He also said that the city will continue celebrating the economic, cultural, and social diversity of its community, and will continue to advance regional economic success by using existing business strengths in industry, healthcare, and an entrepreneurial spirit as Canton seeks to expand its economic footprint.

Other guiding principles include the enhancement of downtown Canton through preservation, entrepreneurship, arts and culture, and community-centric activities, the need for sustaining the city’s natural environment, connecting citizens to parks and recreation through local parks, trails, sidewalks, and additional transportation options, and lastly, to lead with excellence.

“My primary goal for my first year as mayor was to help facilitate a strategic roadmap to guide quality and sustainable growth for Canton over the next couple of decades,” Canton Mayor Bill Grant said. “Our Council has been working diligently on tactical considerations informed by their committee work in economic development, housing, transportation, water and sewer, public safety, and community development. In addition, (city staff) have helped to identify common themes that appear to be important for our citizens and future growth. We also have data and public input from our new housing study, various citizen stakeholder committees, social media feedback, and other city planning documents that are being considered as we created the new roadmap this fall.”

Grant added that, by adhering to these common tenets on every potential project and practice going forward, the city will have guides for decision making to help streamline the city’s processes, make calculated tradeoffs, and communicate the path forward to developers, citizens, and other business investors.

“The time has come for Canton to grow according to the wants and needs of our citizens in a strategic and proactive manner, instead of reacting to the requests of private developers on individual projects,” Grant said. “These guiding principles were created to better serve our citizens as we continue to become the coolest small town in America.”

Grant said the council’s goal is to vet the completed roadmap draft with citizens for feedback in November, and officially adopt it by the end of the year so the road map can be implemented in January.

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Ethan is a reporter covering the cities of Holly Springs & Canton. He also covers city governments and lifestyle. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University.

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