Park road plans draw opposition

Friday, November 14, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:16 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Russell property won’t be cut in two if the Parks and Recreation Commission has its way.

At a public hearing Thursday night, the commission voted to recommend a development option for the property that would not extend Cunningham Road through the 90-acre park. The property was donated to the city by the late F. Garland Russell in April 1999.

Before voting, the commission heard from residents about the four development proposals being considered. Nearly all who spoke at the meeting voiced opposition to two of the options. Those options propose extending Cunningham Road from Bray Avenue to a section of Rollins Road that is under construction.

Tron Jordheim, who wants to preserve the property without building a road, said residents showed up to stop the commission from taking action.

“Usually people come to ask for money and to build things — we’re here to tell you not to spend money and not to build things,” he said.

The proposal to extend Cunningham Road has drawn criticism from residents since the department first held a public meeting in January to discuss developing the park.

However, the Planning and Zoning Department supports extending the road because it would make better connections between neighborhoods. This summer, the department recommended the fourth option, which would link the extended Cunningham Road with Fairview Road through city property. The Fire Department also favors an extension because it might reduce emergency vehicle response time to certain areas.

The four options presented Thursday night were based on information gathered at the January public planning meeting and from two surveys taken by the Parks and Recreation Department.

All four options include the following proposals:

  • Constructing a nature trail through the forest areas and a gravel trail that will connect to the MKT trail in the south.
  • Constructing restrooms, picnic shelters and playgrounds.
  • Constructing a nature center.
  • Creating a 4.5-acre lake.
  • The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing about the Russell property Thursday, when it will vote on which option to recommend. The City Council will review the recommendations made by the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission. The council may hold a public hearing before making a final decision on the project.

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