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City seeks $500,000 infrastructure grant

Whit Carpenter News

Madison City Council will spend $20,000 to apply for a grant to fund expansion of the city’s water and waste system in light of the planned Georgia Safari Conservation Park. 

“The construction is pretty straightforward,” said City Manager David Nunn. “It will probably require a sewer pump station…The biggest challenge is funding.”

The city is counting on grants to settle the majority of the price tag. The total cost of construction has not yet been determined.

“We’re relying on grant money to fund the lion’s share,” Nunn said.

City Council is hoping to secure the OneGeorgia equity grant, awarded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The grant provides up to $500,000 to assist rural communities in building necessary infrastructure for economic development. 

Allen-Smith Consulting, Inc. has been selected to write and administer the grant, but the application is competitive.

“There’s better than a 50-50 chance,” said Debra Smith, co-owner of the firm.

According to Smith, half of the $20,000 that the city has budgeted will go to administration of the grant and the other half will go to paying the grant writer.

If the city is awarded the grant, all of the funds will help Madison expand the water and sewage system to accommodate the park’s needs.

“None of it will go to the safari’s construction,” Nunn said.

The city is in the process of completing the utility service plans. Multiple contractors will bid on the finalized blueprints.

When the park opens, visitors will experience a safari drive, a walk-through exhibit and two types of lodging. The proposed Phase 1 will focus on the safari drive through experience and several exhibits, according to Brandie Anderson, a partner with the project.

“When and how those phases come on line will be determined by several different factors,” Anderson said. “We are currently focused on Phase 1, and it’s too premature to elaborate on how future phases will come on line.”

The conservation park plans to break ground in the fall and open Phase 1 in spring 2020 pending approval of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA).

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