Anniston may pay $450,000 for new Coldwater biking trails
by Laura Camper
Jan 30, 2013 | 5710 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Solutia has offered this site off Monsanto Road for Anniston as a trailhead for the Coldwater Mountain bicycle trails. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
Solutia has offered this site off Monsanto Road for Anniston as a trailhead for the Coldwater Mountain bicycle trails. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
The Anniston City Council could kick in some funding to the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail to connect it to the proposed site of the trailhead park off Monsanto Road in west Anniston. According to the project’s chief trail-builder, the new trail could be completed as early as June.

The only trailhead used by Coldwater cyclists is the Coldspring trailhead off of Alabama 202, and it has no direct connection to Anniston.

Portions of the mountain are in Anniston, and the city would like to have a direct connection from the trail to its downtown area. The proposed trailhead off Monsanto Road would accomplish that. The problem is there are no trails that connect to the proposed trailhead park.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association already has the design for the connecting trail and is seeking funding. At an Anniston City Council work session Wednesday, four of the council members discussed how the city might fund the project.

“The trailhead seems to be moving at a good pace,” Councilman Jay Jenkins said. “I’d just like when we get our connection to downtown and our trailhead in place to actually have trail there.”

IMBA estimates the new trail and a temporary trailhead, which would just offer parking, will cost about $450,000. Anniston Finance Director Danny McCullars offered a solution. Every year since 2004, the former council appropriated money toward the development of Coldwater Mountain, McCullars said. The money has been placed in a trust fund but relatively small amounts have been used. There is now $1.3 million in the account, McCullars said, more than enough to cover the cost of the nine miles of trail it will take to connect to the trailhead.

That additional nine miles of trail will also bring the amount of available trails to more than 25 miles, said Rich Edwards, trail solutions manager for IMBA. That threshold is important because it will make Anniston’s trail desirable for more than just a day trip. People will travel farther if they can spend more than one day on the trail, Jenkins said.

“Once you hit 25 miles we’re going to want to start marketing,” Edwards said.

The new trail will provide a four-mile descent, one of the longest in the Southeast. That is a calling card, he said. When the trail hits the 60-mile mark, it will become a national draw, Edwards added.

Councilman Seyram Selase said he was very supportive of the city kicking in some funding. The new trailhead park offers development opportunities to Ward 3, he said. The fact that the city has a fund set aside for the development of Coldwater Mountain makes the decision a “no-brainer,” Selase said.

Mayor Vaughn Stewart agreed.

“We don’t need it tomorrow,” Stewart said. “We need it today.”

Once IMBA receives funding, it will be able to schedule builders and get started.

“We’re going to push real hard and have that built by June,” Edwards said.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 12.

Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.

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