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McDonough seeking state funds for park improvements

John Cheek

John Cheek

City leaders in McDonough are hoping to secure state funds, to make improvements to a recreational area in the city.

The McDonough City Council has authorized Mayor Billy Copeland to sign a pre-application resolution seeking a Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant for Alexander Park, on Ga. Highway 42. The grant, from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, would be for up to $100,000, and the city’s match would be up to $50,000, if approved by the state, according to McDonough Community Development Director John Cheek.

The grant program, he said, is part of a federal program administered statewide through the Department of Natural Resources. Cheek, during a Feb. 20 council meeting, said the city became aware of the availability of grant funds, earlier this month.

“As we got into looking at the requirements for it, this grant has a pre-application process where we answer a series of questions about our park space that we want to receive the grant for,” said Cheek.

Each pre-application, he said, will be scored by state officials to determine whether it qualifies a given entity to submit a formal application.

“Part of the qualification for being able to submit that pre-application is having a resolution from the governing body that says, if we apply, and if we are awarded the grant, then, we will provide the required local match.”

The match could come in the form of cash or in-kind contributions, according to Cheek. Grant funds, he said, can be used in a wide variety of ways to improve the park.

“It can be used for property acquisition, it can be used for expansion of facilities, it can be used for rehabilitation of facilities,” he said. “When we first started talking about it, we were thinking about it for acquisition of park land, but then, we determined that we didn’t have any funds available to do a local match for that. So, we started looking at some of the issues that had come up with Alexander Park, about safety at the highway, and things like that.”

Mayor Copeland quickly took issue with the assertion that there are safety concerns at Alexander Park, regarding its proximity to the highway.

“I walk [that] street every day of my life,” said Copeland. “I don’t know what the issue is about safety. I can go into some other aspects of it, but ... we all take risks.”

The city, Cheek countered, is still ironing out details for how the funds would be used.

“We haven’t even settled on the specifics of what would be in the application,” said Cheek. “But, the state says that joint applications ... for things like expansion and rehabilitation, often score higher, so we probably will look at a mix, because that would open us up to more funding.”

The city council unanimously approved Cheek’s resolution.

“We’re putting together the pre-application now,” said Cheek, on Friday. “It has to be postmarked by Feb. 29.”