On May 18, 2023, The Office of the Governor Brian P. Kemp announced recipients of, “preliminary grant awards totaling more than $225 million for 142 qualified projects that improve neighborhood assets like parks, recreation facilities, sidewalks, and healthy food access in communities all across the state disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Awarded funds will go to eligible non-profits and local governments to utilize in improving or maintaining recreational facilities in Qualified Census Tracts or for repair or maintenance needs due to significantly greater use of public facilities during the pandemic. The City of Canton was awarded $4.4M for two projects that include pedestrian bridge/sidewalk improvements at Canton Creek and funds for assisting with the development of South Canton Park. City staff began working on the grant applications last August after learning about the potential funding source during a meeting with transportation consultants. The maximum grant award was $2.2M and the City of Canton was one of only three municipal governments to receive multiple maximum grant awards.
"Thanks solely to the hard work of our staff, especially City Engineer Bethany Watson, and the clear vision of a Council that continues to prioritize and implement projects based on the goals established by citizens in our Roadmap for Success, the City of Canton was awarded 2% of the statewide total $225 million dollars in ARPA grants from the Governor's Office of Planning & Budgets,” said Mayor Bill Grant. “This is a huge win for our City and residents, and these funds will be well spent improving the quality of life on two keynote projects that include pedestrian bridge/sidewalk improvements at Canton Creek and the development of our first innovative park in South Canton.”
Residents of Canton provided feedback in the creation of the City’s award-winning Roadmap for Success and the recently approved Canton Transportation Masterplan informing the applications drafted by Ms. Watson. Funds will be utilized in South Canton to establish the first park in this area of the City. While the overall project will include funding from special purpose local option sales taxes and recreational impact fees, the grant funds will be used to address needs for accessible playground equipment and a much-anticipated dog park.
“Canton residents listed the need for a state-of-the-art dog park as one of their top goals in the Roadmap planning back in 2020,” noted City Manager Billy Peppers. “We look forward to the continued planning of this park and meeting the desires of our citizens.”
The pedestrian link between Sunnyside, Cherokee County’s largest Hispanic neighborhood, and downtown Canton will receive a major improvement with the addition of a Canton Creek pedestrian bridge. “The City’s transportation masterplan called for several projects in this Hickory Flat Highway and Marietta Road corridor,” said City Engineer Bethany Watson. “These state funds will allow us to kick start improvements for pedestrian connectivity with a focus on safety and walkability.”
“Leading with Excellence is a key tenant in our roadmap,” Grant continued. “Securing grants at this level demonstrates our team’s commitment to moving Canton forward in a fiscally and strategically responsible manner.”
These state grants coincide with other recent grant awards, including over $600,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission for a pedestrian bridge connecting the current expansion of the Etowah River Trail System back to the award-winning Mill on Etowah, and Atlanta Regional Commission transportation funding for improvements on State Route 140 from Riverstone Parkway to Reinhardt College Parkway.