Mayor pursuing Ward Five walking trail

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The recent completion of the rip-rapping of the Halbert Heightsdrainage ditch has left the area between Halbert Heights Road andBrookway Boulevard looking more like a place for children to raceboats than the mass of tangled weeds it was just months ago.

Mayor Les Bumgarner said his plan for the next four yearsincludes putting a walking track in fronting the littlewaterway.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “I’d like to have one that’slighted at night, and actually make it a multi-use track, so youcan ride bikes or use your skateboard – anything that’s notmotorized.”

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Bumgarner said the project is in the early stages and there arestill a lot of things to accomplish up front before it can go underthe knife, but that his hope is to get it done very soon. Cityleaders discussed the fact that there are different avenues forgrants to fund projects like the Halbert Heights trail at Tuesdaynight’s board of aldermen meeting.

“The idea has been hatched and we’re going through the process,”he said.

The layout of the land around the ditch is perfect for the trailidea, Bumgarner said, as it curves down from the bridge at HalbertHeights Road and ends up behind Stan King GM Superstore.

“If we put a little bridge over it and light it at night, Ithink it’d be really nice out there,” he said.

The walking track at Halbert Heights also fits in perfectly withthe long-term plan to put a park or walking trail in every ward,Bumgarner said.

“This gives us something in Ward Five and means we’ve putsomething in every ward except for Four,” he said. “I’m not surethere’s land available in Ward Four, but they do have theBrookhaven Elementary School playground over there that’savailable.”

The park plan is not just about numbers, though. The plan is topromote quality of life, Bumgarner said.

“Quality of life for our people is of utmost importance,” hesaid. “For some people that’s pleasant sights – they just need tosee some pretty things.”

And having places for people to spend time outdoors is integralalso to the health of a city and its children, Bumgarner said.

“I think our kids are probably inside the house too much thesedays,” he said.

Plus, there’s the fact that the aesthetic value of a park oroutdoor recreational place adds to people’s peace of mind.

“I think green space is the key,” he said. “People don’t likeconcrete everywhere.”

Bumgarner cited New York City’s Central Park as an example ofwhy it’s important to add parks and other outdoors attractions asthe city grows.

“You’ve got to do it as you go, because the land becomes toovaluable,” he said.

Bumgarner said in Tuesday night’s meeting that the list ofalmost 30 plans is what he would like to see happen during histenure. Many of the projects are under way already, and some areideas for the future.

“This is just to get us started,” he said. “It’s not written instone, but it’s my game plan.”