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City eyes federal grant to build walking trail

City officials want to pursue a grant to build a newrecreational walking trail, but they say location and some otherdecisions still have to be made.

Terry Reid, recreation department director, said grants areavailable through the Recreational Trails Program with the U.S.Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.However, Reid said the city effort is still early in the planningprocess.

“We’re really not very far along with it,” Reid said.

Reid has been talking with Mayor Bill Godbold about a locationfor the trail. That is the first decision to be made, Reidsaid.

“It’s kind of on hold now,” Reid said.

Possibilities that have been mentioned include behind the newrecreation department at the old National Guard armory, in downtownand at the city park near Hartman Street.

“We’re looking at places and doing a study of thepossibilities,” Reid said.

The mayor cited a well-lighted area and police protection aspluses for downtown.

“To me, that’d be better,” Godbold said.

Godbold said a route could be designated and developed, withdistance markers put up to inform walkers of how far they traveled.A number of citizens already walk downtown, following variouspatterns depending on the distance they want to go.

Reid acknowledged the positive attributes of downtown, but healso cited positive attributes of an unused area behind thearmory.

He mentioned ease of access, a lighted parking area and programsthat go on at the armory until around 9:30 p.m., so other peoplewould be around when walkers are present. Also, an old armorystorage building could be converted into restrooms.

“It’d just be the ideal situation for it,” Reid said.

During the recreational trail development, Reid wants to useapproximately 2,000 tree seedings that have been growing since atree-plating program last year. An Agriculture Stabilization andConservation Service program provided the seedlings during plantingactivities in several areas.

“I want to use some of those to make it a nature trail typewalking area,” Reid said.

The maximum grant under the program is $50,000. However, Reidbelieves a nice trail could be built for around $15,000.

“We can do so much with our in-kind labor and equipment thatwe’ve got here,” Reid said.

Reid would like to have something in place or under way by theend of summer or the early fall.

“We’re just doing a study to decide where we’re going to put itnow,” Reid said.