SUMMERFIELD - The owners of two dozen pieces of land along the future extension of the Atlantic and Yadkin (A&Y) Greenway are going to get a letter and phone call later this year, starting the process of buying their land for the right of way for the public cycling and running trail.
The town hasn't identified the property owners, but some own land on Summerfield Road, part of the route of the 3.6-mile greenway continuation. As proposed, it will start at the U.S. 220 pedestrian tunnel and end at the future Medaris Street trailhead, near Summerfield's new Paw Park.
The Town Council voted unanimously last month to approve a contract paying consulting firm Kimley-Horn as much as $620,752.35 to complete planning of the "A&Y Summerfield South" project and provide right-of-way acquisition services. The contract breaks down planning and engineering costs of $425,252.35 and right-of-way acquisition services for no more than $195,500, with the state Department of Transportation paying 80% of the cost and Summerfield 20%.
Subcontractor Right-of-Way Acquisitions will conduct negotiations with owners of as many as 24 parcels, based upon state and federal guidelines, according to Kimley-Horn.
If negotiations are unsuccessful, the subcontractor can start the process of condemning the property, Kimley-Horn said.
The town's contract with the consultant doesn't cover the cost of buying parcels along the greenway continuation, according to Town Manager Scott Whitaker.
Kimley-Horn is still finalizing details for the start of right-of-way negotiations with property owners, according to Jeff Moore, a senior vice president for the company. He's working with Summerfield leaders on the greenway.
"We typically send a letter and follow up with a phone call to set up an in-person meeting," Moore said in an email earlier this week, noting the firm will conduct a public meeting to provide more information.
Exactly how much right of way will be required for the greenway isn't clear, Moore said.
"We do not know the exact easement width at this time, but anticipate that the greenway will be 10 feet wide and will be comprised of boardwalk, asphalt and concrete sections depending on the location," he said.
Summerfield has laid out the course of the trail. As walkers, runners and cyclists exit the U.S. 220 tunnel, they will turn immediately left, or south, and follow the greenway toward Lake Higgins before looping through the watershed woodlands back to Summerfield Road, according to a description of the project on the town's website.
From there, the greenway will generally travel over the abandoned railroad bed along the northeastern side of Summerfield Road before crossing the road at Summerfield Elementary School. From Centerfield Road, it will follow the railbed through a wooded area before ending at the future Medaris Street trailhead, just north of the dog park.
Construction of the greenway is slated to start in 2024, depending partly upon securing of right of ways.
"Time is of the essence," Ginger Lambrecht, chair of the town's Trails and Open Space Committee, wrote in an April 5 letter urging the council to hire Kimley-Horn. "To stay on schedule and meet requirements of the 80% funding for the A&Y Trail, we have to get the right of ways secured," she said.
Kimley-Horn succeeds design and engineering firm Stewart, hired by the town in 2015 to design the A&Y Summerfield South project. According to Whitaker, Stewart's performance lagged, partly due to a lack of staffing, and the town terminated its relationship with the firm in January.