NORTH AUGUSTA - Greenspace that has gone unused in North Augusta for more than a century will soon become a series of parks connected to residential areas and schools by a recreation trail.
City officials have set aside $100,000 in the city's 2002 budget to purchase 12 parcels of land off Georgia Avenue between the city's Greeneway trail and West Woodlawn Avenue. The land was designated in 1891 by the North Augusta Land Co. for water drainage.
The soggy basins lie near the city's Creighton and Living History parks on Lake Avenue, also once designated for water drainage, but since converted.
Eventually, city officials say, parks throughout the city will be connected by the walking and biking trail.
City Administrator Charles Martin said officials are seeking owners of the drainage basins and determining land costs. Once estimates and agreements are established, city council members will have to approve the expenditures.
Conversion of the basins into parks is expected to begin in 2003 and would be followed with construction of the connecting trails.
Trails connecting all parks will converge at the Greeneway trail, which lies along the banks of the Savannah River.
"It's just another option we're trying to give our citizens," said Bob Brooks, North Augusta director of parks and recreation. "It will enhance neighborhoods."
Mr. Brooks and city officials have been eyeing the plan since 1996. Once complete, the bike and walking trails will form a web through the city.
In theory, Mr. Martin said, a child from any part of the community could ride a bicycle along trails to the Greeneway - or all the way across town.
"Anybody that has utilized it has seen the importance of the Greeneway," Mr. Martin said.
By providing increased access to the Greeneway now, residents will one day have more access to the Savannah River, Mr. Brooks said.
North Augusta has distant plans to develop a riverfront park and amphitheater along the river, but the river has few public access points now, Mr. Brooks said.
Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895.