From today’s Times-News:
The Ecusta Trail in Henderson County could be one step closer to reality after county staff got the green light Wednesday for the Board of Commissioners to apply for a grant.
The French Broad River MPO currently has a call out for projects for Surface Transportation Block Grant funds. As a member government of the MPO, Henderson County has the opportunity to apply for monies to be used for greenway projects.
The total available is $26 million. A 20% local match would be needed if the grant is approved. No matching funds are required until the project is implemented, and only as the work is completed.
Money for projects will be disbursed in fiscal years 2022-26.
The grant process is expected to be extremely competitive, particularly since projects in Asheville and Buncombe County will be considered as well, according to Planning Director Autumn Radcliff and Business and Community Development Director John Mitchell.
Grant applications are due by March 31, and commissioners unanimously agreed to have staff proceed after expressing both support and concern.
Board Chairman Grady Hawkins said he was worried about what the county’s financial obligation would be if funding is approved.
The burden will not be on the county or the taxpayer at this time, according to Mitchell.
“I believe private funding is available and other (groups) would be interested in providing a match should we be successful in securing the grant,” he said.
The match can also span multiple fiscal years over the course of the project’s implementation, Radcliff said.
“This money might not be available down the road,” said Commissioner Rebecca McCall.
Commissioner Bill Lapsley agreed with her, and said the opportunities to receive 80% of funding don’t come around too often.
Conserving Carolina was awarded a $6.4-million grant in the summer of last year for the purchase of the rail corridor known as the TR Line, or the proposed Ecusta Trail.
The group is still in the process of securing property, according to Mitchell, and receiving this grant would make a significant impact.
The proposed greenway will run from Kanuga Road in Hendersonville to the old Ecusta Plant property in Brevard, between Ecusta Road and Old Hendersonville Highway. This rail line has been inactive since the Ecusta cigarette paper plant closed its doors in 2002.