Fayet­teville vot­ers asked to keep tax, ex­tend trail

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - STACY RYBURN

FAYET­TEVILLE — City of­fi­cials here are hop­ing to pig­gy­back off a bond is­sue that vot­ers over­whelm­ingly passed 13 years ago. That bond is­sue was used to help de­velop the re­gion’s trail sys­tem, and it’s hoped that money from a new bond is­sue would help ex­tend it.

Nearly $6.9 mil­lion of the $226 mil­lion pro­posed for cap­i­tal projects in a forth­com­ing bond ref­er­en­dum would go to­ward build­ing about 10 miles of new trails. Vot­ers will be asked April 9 to con­tinue the city’s 1 per­cent sales tax to pay for the projects.

A $2.1 mil­lion bond is­sue from the 2006 ref­er­en­dum helped build what be­came the North­west Arkansas Ra­zor­back Greenway, a $38 mil­lion, 36-mile trail sys­tem that ex­tends from north­ern Ben­tonville to south Fayet­teville.

That greenway links six down­towns, 23 schools, the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville cam­pus, and sev­eral shop­ping ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to the North­west Arkansas Trails web­site.

Fayet­teville has a five-year trails plan that it up­dates with rec­om­men­da­tions from the Ac­tive Trans­porta­tion Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, a mostly res­i­dent panel that fo­cuses on side­walks and trails. About $1.5 mil­lion an­nu­ally is ded­i­cated to the plan, which is enough to build about 2 miles of trail each year.

“The mayor’s com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing that. If the bond passes, then it’s an ad­di­tion,” Trails Co­or­di­na­tor Matt Mi­hale­vich said. “It’s re­ally go­ing to al­low us to get ahead on some of these projects by go­ing above the 2 miles per year of new trail and catch up with some of these more dif­fi­cult projects.”

The trails projects list ba­si­cally calls for four ma­jor routes and two smaller con­nec­tions.

Some of the pro­posed routes go through city right of way, but some easements will have to be ne­go­ti­ated with prop­erty own­ers for sev­eral seg­ments, Mi­hale­vich said. Money as­so­ci­ated with each project can be used for land ac­qui­si­tion in ad­di­tion to con­struc­tion, he said.

About $1.6 mil­lion in grants are an­tic­i­pated for the project from the Arkansas Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and the Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion, he said, rais­ing the to­tal to be avail­able for the projects to about $8.5 mil­lion, if the bond mea­sure passes.

Work on some of the projects could be­gin next year.

The long­est trail project would have a con­tin­u­ous, 7½-mile route from Shiloh Drive and Gar­land Av­enue near the Ful­bright Ex­press­way south to Kessler Moun­tain Re­gional Park.

Trail plan­ners want to build the route in sec­tions, in three sep­a­rate projects. Es­ti­mated cost for all three pieces is more than $2 mil­lion.

Sev­eral seg­ments along the route were built as de­vel­op­ment oc­curred, Mi­hale­vich said.

The trail would con­nect to other trails along the way, with a bridge pro­posed over Hamestring Creek.

The state is work­ing on putting a bi­cy­cle and pedes­trian path along Wed­ing­ton Drive at the In­ter­state 49 in­ter­change. The project is still in de­vel­op­ment, Mi­hale­vich said.

A big rea­son the city wants to take on the Shiloh trail is be­cause of a new park it ac­quired. The City Coun­cil agreed to buy Cen­ten­nial Park last year with the in­ten­tion of turn­ing it into a moun­tain bik­ing at­trac­tion. Trail spurs north and south of the park are in­cluded in the bond is­sue.

The trail also would link Cen­ten­nial Park to Kessler Moun­tain Re­gional Park.

Laura Can­ter, a mem­ber of the Ac­tive Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee, said the Shiloh trail con­nec­tions stand out to her the most. She lives in the area.

“I have to get in my truck and drive 3 miles to go the gro­cery store,” she said. “I’m some­body who cy­cles a lot. Once this is com­pleted, I can get on my bike and do that.”

An­other ma­jor route would run east-west through the Shiloh Drive trail.

The es­ti­mated $2 mil­lion project along Martin Luther King Jr. Boule­vard and at the in­ter­change would in­clude a trail round­about. A tun­nel would go un­der King Boule­vard to con­nect to the round­about.

The south part of Fayet­teville is set to get about a 3½-mile trail route.

The most ex­pen­sive item on the list, about $2.85 mil­lion, would ex­tend St. Paul Trail to the Ra­zor­back Greenway on the west, past the west fork of the White River, and east to Dead Horse Moun­tain Road.

The ex­ist­ing St. Paul Trail be­tween Morn­ing­side Drive and Arm­strong Av­enue is the city’s old­est. It was made of asphalt, in­stead of con­crete, and hasn’t held up well as a re­sult, Mi­hale­vich said.

The project would in­volve re­plac­ing 4,180 feet with con­crete, mak­ing it 12 feet wide and adding light­ing.

The new route would be­gin at the zero point of the Ra­zor­back Re­gional Greenway and reach east all the way to the west fork of the White River. Spurs would con­nect to Combs and White River parks, and a bridge us­ing the ex­ist­ing con­crete base from the rail­road would get trail­go­ers across the river. The project is more ex­pen­sive than the oth­ers be­cause of the bridge, Mi­hale­vich said.

A pad­dle park is pro­posed at the Pump Sta­tion Dam in the area. That project is part of the parks bond is­sue.

Steve Franken­berger, an­other mem­ber of the Ac­tive Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee, said he thinks the trail, bridge and pad­dle park will trans­form the area and make it a tourist at­trac­tion.

“That whole cor­ri­dor there along the White River is in a flood­plain. It’s worth­less land,” he said. “I think it could just be beau­ti­ful.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.