Many students and parents at Starr’s Mill High School have been clamoring for golf cart access at the Starr’s Mill School Complex. The wait may be a little longer than they had been hoping for, as it was revealed Thursday night that the county anticipates at least a two-and-a-half year timeframe for completion of cart path extensions down Redwine Rd.

Every county commissioner attested to the fact that this issue has drawn more community feedback than any other they had seen in office.

“I will say, in four years in office for the county, this is the most responses I’ve gotten on any single issue,” Commission Chairman Steve Brown said.

The other commissioners agreed, citing e-mail totals of 70 to 100 each. Only one or two e-mails in that group expressed doubts about bringing cart path access to Starr’s Mill.

County Engineer Phil Mallon said the project consists of two phases: a locally formulated “concept design” that is submitted to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), then GDOT takes over the process and constructs the extended paths.

Mallon stressed that his timeframe estimates are tentative, but guessed that the local element could take 9 to 12 months. After a plan is submitted to GDOT, he said it could reasonably take 10 to 16 months to complete the paths.

Mallon said the intent is to create a “small stakeholder group” from among the neighborhoods that will likely use the cart path access to Starr’s Mill and other local parties. He said that group would be able to provide input prior to submitting a plan to GDOT, after which the project is largely out of local control.

He was also clear in pointing out that the Board of Education’s portion of this project is entirely separate from the county’s “in terms of funding, possibly design standards, and implementation.”

The Board of Education has been discussing options for adding golf cart parking at the Starr’s Mill complex, most recently putting forth three different options with varying cost estimates.

Superintendent Jody Barrow, in Athens for a conference on Friday, had not heard about the county’s stated timeline when contacted by Fayette Newspapers.

Barrow said he could not say for sure how the board would wish to proceed in terms of a timeline for adding parking at Starr’s Mill, but did offer his impressions.

“I don’t have the sense that the board wants to do anything until they have the connector cart paths done,” Barrow said. “That’s my general sense. I don’t know [whether] this new information will change that sentiment.”

County Administrator Steve Rapson said he hoped for some patience on the project, noting that the GDOT portion is out of the county’s control.

“In typical GDOT fashion, we’ll talk about this a year from now,” Rapson said, somewhat tongue in cheek. “I just want two-and-a-half years worth of patience, that’s all.”

The commission voted to approve entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Transportation for the federally aided project. This included approved spending of $214,600 in local funds, including $22,800 for engineering/design and $25,000 for right-of-way.

The plan calls for the extension of the 10-ft. wide path along Redwine Rd. between Birkdale Dr. and Camoustie Way, as well as a section between Preserve Place and Foreston Place. An at-grade crossing is planned at Old Ivy/ Camoustie Way. The motion also noted “other path improvements along Redwine Rd. as deemed appropriate and feasible.”

The budget for the project is $1,073,000. The county is responsible for 20-percent plus any amount over the approved budget.