I suppose this is old news, but it’s new to me, so I’ll pass it along…
I recently came across this story about the Ruby Jack Trail, located in southwestern Missouri, running from Carthage to the Kansas state line:
When complete, the Ruby Jack trail will ultimately run from Carthage to the KS state line. Initially it was planned as a bi-state trail all the way to Columbus, KS. However, Cherokee County passed an ordinance in response to those plans that effectively prohibits the rail-trail from entering Kansas. So until the good people of Cherokee County overcome their fear of bikers and joggers, the trail will stop at the state line.
Rough gravel aside, I am really excited about this trail. I think it’s a great asset to the area and another excellent component of the ever expanding trail system in the Joplin area.
Read more from Ryan McCoy at the Shortleaf blog: Ruby Jack Trail.
I was unfamiliar with the Cherokee County situation, so did a bit more searching and turned up this 2003 article from the Missouri Bicycle Federation:
Supporters originally hoped for a 28-mile trail from Carthage to Columbus, Kan. Opposition and a fee imposed by the Cherokee County Commission caused the trail group to drop the Kansas portion.
And this nugget from the Joplin Globe:
In 2002, the Cherokee County (Kan.) Landowners Association filed a statement opposing extending the trail into Kansas, saying some trail groups lack funding, manpower “and quite frankly motivation” to develop and maintain the trails they control. They expressed concern about littering, vandalism and inadequate policing.
The coalition pulled out of the Kansas portion after the Cherokee County Commission ruled that the trails group would have to post a surety bond of about $10,000 per mile to ensure that the trail would be maintained.
Teverow said that would have made it prohibitively expensive to run the trail to Columbus.
“The state of Kansas, I would say, has made it more difficult than any state in the nation,” he said.
And finally, another excerpt from Shortleaf: No New Trail!:
Basically the story is that the Joplin Trails Coalition is developing a 16 mile rails to trails project from Carthage to the KS state line and pretty much everyone along the way is trying to keep it from happening. Initially the plan was to extend all the way to somewhere in KS, but Cherokee County was so opposed to the forward thinking idea of fitness and recreation they passed a law that made it cost prohibitive and eventually the coalition gave up on the idea of having a trail in KS.
I was told by a member of the coalition that farmers will routinely dump old machinery or bales of hay to obstruct the trail, and surprisingly, one of the biggest opponents of the project was the Carl Junction school system. The trail is supposed to pass near the high school and they are paranoid about the “transients” that might hang out on the trail. I have biked and hiked on lots of trials and don’t recall ever being mugged or offered drugs. And heaven forbid the school system actually encourage students to get out and USE THE TRAIL.
The main argument for this most recent lawsuit is that the trail will degrade neighboring property values. I have seen many small towns enhanced by these types of trails, but I don’t recall seeing any that were turned ghetto because of one.
Why do some places in Kansas have to be so backwards? What exactly do they fear?
Do they not want places for their citizens to walk, run, and ride? Do they not want people to visit their communities? Are they not interested in economic development?
Makes no sense to me…