A drawing of the Briarwood Park master plan approved in 2016 shows the approximate location of nature trails to be constructed along the perimeter of the park. (City of Brookhaven)

Construction of nature trails in Brookhaven’s Briarwood Park is expected to begin early next month after an approximate two-year wait with plans to have them completed by the end of the year.

The City Council voted Aug. 27 to award a contract to Steele & Associates for just under $98,000 to complete the trails projects. The contract states the project must begin within 10 days of it being awarded and completed within 120 days. Briarwood Park is located at 2235 Briarwood Way NE.

“This trail has been a long time coming … and it has been a high priority to get it done,” Mayor John Ernst said at the meeting. The use of federal funding for the project slowed its progress, he added.

The project includes installing 3-foot wide natural surface hiking trails and removal of 5 acres of invasive species that is expected to increase the usable green space by 30%, according to city officials.

Native granite will be used on the trails where necessary for stabilization. The project also includes a cross walk from the parking area to the trailhead. The plans were included in the Briarwood Park master plan approved in 2016.

In 2017, the city received a $100,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to build and restore a one-mile trail in Briarwood Park. As part of the DNR grant, the city agreed to pay the balance of the project with a minimum match of $25,000. At the time, the project was also estimated to cost about $160,000.

But construction costs increased, so the council approved a $72,000 budget amendment to cover costs of the Steele & Associates contract. The money for the budget amendment is coming from special local option sales tax dollars that were planned for pool repairs for next year, according to Assistant City Manager and CFO Steve Chapman.

DNR funding follows federal regulations and special permitting had to be granted by the Army Corps of Engineers last year because some of the work is taking place in the park’s stream buffer. This process slowed the project from getting started.