Trail concept plan OKd
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 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.