Residents are happy to be near MKT trail, MU survey shows

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | 8:05 p.m. CDT; updated 1:41 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 8, 2013
David Mountjoy runs along the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail on Tuesday morning in Columbia. Mountjoy owns a house that backs up to the trail and is one of many residents who enjoys living close to the trail and believes the MKT is very beneficial to the community.

COLUMBIA — Columbia's outdoor recreational footprint is marked by the MKT Nature and Fitness trail.

Twenty years ago the formation of the 8.9-mile nature walk received a lot of flack because it was to be developed near the backyards of many people.


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The current trail, which offers a natural escape close to the growing city, is almost unanimously praised.

Those that live close to the MKT are pleased with the impact it has had on their community, according to a recent survey by the Parks and Recreation Department and the MU  Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

The survey, conducted by MU assistant professor Sonja Wilhelm Stanis, took results from the responses of 149 residents that live within 200 yards of the trail. The survey asked questions about trail usage, trail satisfaction, improved resale value of home and potential issues connected to the trail.

According to the the report, the majority of respondents enjoy the trail and their relationship to it:

  • 70 percent stated they were "very satisfied" and 24 percent "satisfied."
  • 89 percent indicated their quality of life has improved.
  • 71 percent said the trail makes their property easier to sell.
  • 23 percent use the trail five to seven times a week and 47 percent use the trail one to four days a week.

Former Mayor Darwin Hindman is not surprised by the data, but he is happy MU conducted the survey. A resident of Columbia for 78 years, he has always fought for more parks and trails in the city. In the past, he conducted surveys about various trails and got similar responses.

"Any survey that I did is going to be questioned because I'm such an advocate, but the university is much more neutral," he said. 

Residents along the MKT have not always believed in its benefits. In trying to get the trail established, Hindman met a lot of doubters. 

"There is a tendency for people to be afraid of trails," he said. "Afraid of the potential privacy loss, trespassing, littering, vandalism and theft."

The survey found very few incidents. Four percent of respondents reported theft and three percent reported vandalism. 

David Mountjoy neighbors the MKT and frequently uses the trail for running, biking and watching wildlife. He moved to his present location 20 years ago partly because of the trail.

"People on the trail are very respectful," he said, "We've never had an incident."

Hindman hopes that this survey will change people's perception of trails.

"This survey proves their benefits are tremendous for the community," he said. "People stop me literally every day and tell me how much they love the trails."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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Mitchell Moore May 8, 2013 | 8:41 a.m.

The MKT trail used to have trains on it and who would not trade a bike/jogging trail for trains? And as it was a train route, the houses are not as close to it as on the new trails many homeowners are resisting.

MKT is much different from the trails Getabout and Pednet have been peddling and trying to force into peoples' backyards. These small trails are intrusive, invade the privacy of the homeowner and are conduits for criminals and most homeowners do not want strangers claiming the right to be in their backyards.

This particular story is also misleading regarding crime on the MKT trail as it does not list the murder on the trail some years ago, or rape or assaults on the MKT trail.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance May 8, 2013 | 1:13 p.m.

Conduits for criminals? Really? So are roads. I doubt you will see many caravans of stolen goods being carried away on these trails.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 8, 2013 | 3:47 p.m.

There are at least two ways one can approach the "trail in the backyard" situation: One is where you set up a system running through previously built up neighborhoods; the other includes allowing and building backyard trails when you plot and build subdivisions.


We have miles of the latter type of paved trails in the metro complex where I live. Since they come with the properties from the start, it isn't possible for persons or groups to block their being. If you want to buy, you have to take the trail - but you are obviously free to buy elsewhere, in subdivisions not containing trail systems.

The trails are on strips of land that belong to the respective surburban cities; they are maintained by the cities; all mowing and brush clearing adjacent to them is done by the city. Who pays for that? All city taxpayers.

Trails have appropriate signage, including where they must cross surburban streets; where a trail must cross a wide, heavily-trafficed street it either goes under the street or over it (bridge).

There are several "rail conversion" trails in the metro area, and one that is neither a rail conversion nor backyard system, running (one way) for 25 miles, starting in the downtown core city. Ten miles are under core city maintenance, thirteen miles are under U. S. Army Corps of Engineers maintenance (your federal taxes at work!) and two miles are under state park maintenance.

Approximately 0.5 million people have residency within easy access to any of these trails.

(Report Comment)

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