Council approves construction of new trail... again

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | 12:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — There was nothing but support at the City Council meeting Monday night for a planned trail from the Twin Lakes Recreation Area to an existing trailhead just north of Stadium Boulevard.

After almost three years of planning, the council unanimously approved plans for the County House Branch Trail and authorized the city to solicit bids for its construction as well as acquire easements on some private property the trail will pass through.

“I’ve heard nothing but support and people looking forward to the project,” Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said at the meeting.

Monday was the third public hearing on the roughly one-mile-long, $775,000 trail funded by the federal grant for nonmotorized transportation projects. Residents whose property the trail would pass through had initially voiced some concern about the routing in a 2006 public hearing, but overall the process has been relatively noncontroversial, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said in an interview.

“We have been working on this project for several years and have met with most of the property owners,” he said. The trail’s construction would require nine easements, Hood added, but the majority of the trail would cross three properties with owners who have shown a willingness to work with the city.

Since the last public hearing in October 2008, when the council also approved land acquisition for the trail and the project’s construction, slight changes were made to the trail’s planned route along County House Branch. Since the project is federally funded, another public hearing was held Monday to ensure it complied with federal regulations. Hood said he hopes the project will be ready to bid out this fall.

Jay Dow, a resident who lives near the proposed trail, voiced his support for the project Monday night. After the meeting, he said the trail would provide children in the neighborhood a safe way to get to Twin Lakes Recreation Area.

“It would be a terrific asset to our neighborhood,” he said.

The only question raised about the trail was whether it would be paved or left a pervious surface. The trail’s plans indicate it will be paved, but Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said she had heard in a presentation on pervious versus impervious surfaces that it might be cheaper to leave it unpaved. Mayor Darwin Hindman countered that the presentation also indicated pervious asphalt is not a good idea in wet areas like the one that County House Trail will pass through.

But overall, it was all smiles and support for another Columbia trail.

“I think it’s a terrific project,” Hindman said.

To see a map of the trail, click here.

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