Trail con­cept plan OKd

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD abeard@nwadg.com

A bike and hike trail may be in the fu­ture in Pea Ridge.

Bran­non Pack, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Ozark Off Roads Cy­clists, pre­sented a con­cept plan for a mul­tiuse trail to the City Coun­cil dur­ing the reg­u­lar Septem­ber meet­ing.

“We found some un­der­uti­lized park prop­erty,” Mayor Jackie Crab­tree told coun­cil mem­bers, re­fer­ring to the Baker-Hayes Park, about eight acres off Greer Street ob­tained by the city in 2004 from Gene Baker and Tom Hayes, de­vel­op­ers of Bat­tle­field Es­tates. It borders the old Pea Ridge Black­hawk foot­ball sta­dium to the east.

Pack told city of­fi­cials that he worked with school of­fi­cials and many vol­un­teers to de­velop a soft-sur­face trail on school prop­erty where the Black­hawk cy­clists now prac­tice.

“Vol­un­teers put 300 hours into build­ing that trail,” he said. “There was a fan­tas­tic turnout!”

“Right now, they have a stu­dent sign­ing up ev­ery week (to join the cy­clists) since they started the school year. We’re look­ing to ex­tend that op­por­tu­nity through­out the com­mu­nity,” Pack said. “It will ex­tend the recre­ational of­fer­ings in Pea Ridge.”

Pack said he worked with Erin Rush­ing, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of North­west Arkansas Trail Blaz­ers, and they are de­vel­op­ing a com­mu­nity-wide ap­proach.

“We took moun­tain bik­ing com­pletely out of our mis­sion

state­ment,” he said, adding that the trails are for hik­ing, bik­ing, walk­ing, dog walk­ing, run­ning and bike op­ti­miza­tion. He ex­plained that a small seg­ment caters specif­i­cally to some­one on a moun­tain bike.

“Now, kids have an op­por­tu­nity to get bet­ter on bikes right here in this com­mu­nity,” Pack said.

On the pro­posed trail, Pack said ac­cess would be just south of the In­ter­me­di­ate School and would have a space for park­ing. “There are sev­eral com­mu­nity ac­cess points. That is a large sub­di­vi­sion. There are a lot of rooftops. It would lit­er­ally al­low back­yard ac­cess,” he said, re­fer­ring to the Bat­tle­field Es­tates sub­di­vi­sion.

“The land is un­der­uti­lized. It’s kind of bowl shaped,” Pack said. “We can di­ver­sify trail of­fer­ings and can get into con­tour around the edge.”

The plan calls for trails for cy­clists from be­gin­ner to in­ter­me­di­ate.

“We dif­fer­en­ti­ate trail dif­fi­culty,” he said.

Coun­cil mem­ber Bob Cot­ting­ham asked about main­te­nance.

“We’re pro­fes­sional trail builders,” Pack said. “We fol­low 30 years of sus­tain­able trail guide­lines. Other than sea­sonal main­te­nance like weed-eat­ing, there shouldn’t be much if it’s done right. If there’s a big rain, peo­ple may need to stay off of it for a day or two. It’s more ed­u­ca­tion than main­te­nance.”

The mayor asked if signs are erected to an­nounce the trail is closed.

“We teach ride dirt not mud … it’s about stew­ard­ship. We’ve been at this about 20 years. The com­mu­nity will self-reg­u­late and know when it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to recre­ate,” Pack said.

Coun­cil mem­ber Lance San­ders asked if there would be any struc­tures on the prop­erty and was told there were none in the cur­rent plan.

“This is good stuff,” Pack said. “This in­creases prop­erty value. This is a great way that is low cost and very ef­fec­tive way to make Pea Ridge a very good place to live.”

Pack said the cost is min­i­mal and used the trail on the school prop­erty as an ex­am­ple. He said less than $1,000 was spent on ma­te­ri­als and all la­bor was do­nated.

“To get started, we need an ap­proved mas­ter plan.”

“That opens the way for pri­vate, state, fed­eral grants which you can­not pur­sue with­out a mas­ter plan. The first step is to iden­tify costs and fund­ing,” Pack ex­plained.

Tony Townsend, city build­ing of­fi­cial, asked whether the bik­ing and hik­ing would be si­mul­ta­ne­ous or al­ter­nate.

“User con­flict? That’s an ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­nity,” Pack said. “Once we ed­u­cate them, at the end of the day, we’re all good hu­mans. We do de­fine who has the right of way. That’s an ed­u­ca­tion.”

City at­tor­ney Shane Perry re­minder city of­fi­cials they were not be­ing asked to ap­pro­pri­ate money, but to ac­cept the pro­posal.

Coun­cil mem­ber Ray Easley asked about li­a­bil­ity to the city.

Pack said state laws gov­ern that.

“Same as City Park,” the mayor said.

City Clerk Sandy But­ton, an­swer­ing a ques­tion from San­ders, said it does not have to be pre­sented to the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

“If I was about 20 years younger, I might ride that,” Crab­tree said.

The plan was ap­proved unan­i­mously.

Con­cept plan cour­tesy of Bran­non Pack

Con­cept plans for a trail on prop­erty the city owns were shared at the Septem­ber City Coun­cil meet­ing. The City Coun­cil ap­proved the con­cept, which is the first step in seek­ing grants and fund­ing for a trail.

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