Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: April 9, 2012

Kansas Trail News for April 9, 2012 from Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy:

Three Bridges Trail Receives $25,000 Grant

Fred Peterson, Marquette City Clerk, reports that the City has received a $25,000 grant from the Sunflower Foundation to develop the two-mile Three Bridges Trail in that community. The Marquette City Council has indicated they would commit $5,000 towards the match for grant to develop the rail-trail. He also believes $6,000 will be obtained from the Marquette Community Foundation Fund and $2,000 from the Marquette Chamber of Commerce leaving $12,000 to be raised for the required match. “I am excited that we are finally going to actually build the trail after a twelve-year effort, Peterson says. Patience and perseverance do ultimately pay off.”

Landon Trail Description

Did you know the Landon Nature Trail is the only trail in America which crosses and connects both the Santa Fe and Oregon National Historic Trails? It crosses both Union Ferry Branch of Oregon Trail at SE 42nd in Topeka and Santa Fe Nat’l Historic Trail north of US 56 north of Overbrook. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has asked the National Park Service to assist in installing informational signs for trail users.

Challenge Grant Issued By Sunflower VP

Richard Stein, Vice President of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, has issued a $1,000 challenge grant to all Kansas trail advocates. If SRTC receives $1,000 in donations, grants or memberships by January 1, 2013, the Dodge City dentist will personally match the total donated. So, please consider donating $50 or more today by making out a check to “SRTC” and sending it to P.O. Box 44-2043, Lawrence, KS 66044. The Conservancy has acquired six out-of-service rail corridors and needs funds to get these converted into rail-trails including the Western Sky Trail from Chanute to Fredonia.

Allen County Receives Trail Grants

David Tolland with Thrive Allen County reports the following: “The Sunflower Foundation has approved a $22,818 grant to build the Prairie Spirit Trail Extension from Humboldt to Iola. The Health Care Foundation of Greater KC has also approved the matching grant.

The Sunflower grant will complete 4 of the 6.5 miles of the trail. We will be working with the county to encourage them to use their resources to complete the last 2.5 miles to K-224. The county commission has generally been very supportive of this effort.

The Westar Green Team is very interested in doing this project, and they did a full trip up the trail with a group of Humboldt and Iola volunteers about two months ago. They were excited about the potential, and felt that the trail was in much better condition that they expected or as compared to other trail projects they’ve done around the state.”

Prairie Spirit Trail Extension Progresses In Iola

According to David Tolland, “construction of the 1.5 miles of the Prairie Spirit Trail Extension within the city limits of Iola is ahead of schedule. All of the concrete curb cuts have been completed on the extension within Iola thanks to the good weather, and nearly all of the lighting is in place, along with the bollards. The contractors should start laying asphalt this month.

Also, a Kansas Health Foundation Recognition Grant was recently awarded. It includes $7,329 for crosswalk signs, and way-finding signs to direct PSRT users to healthy lifestyles amenities and facilities within Iola. These will all be done as part of implementation of the Vision Iola Built Environment Plan.”

Lawrence Developer To Build Connecting Trail

An Austin, Texas developer is planning to build a multi-use path that will connect the new Aspen Heights development in Lawrence with the Naismith Trail in south Lawrence. The developer is building 300 student housing units at 31st and Ousdahl Streets. The connecting path will allow students to ride north to 23rd Street on a recreational path and then use Naismith Drive to travel to the Kansas University campus.

Bill In Legislature Would Tax Rail-Trails

A hearing on HB 2735 was held by the Kansas House Transportation Committee on March 5 in Topeka. The bill, drafted and pushed by the Kansas Farm Bureau, would make managers of railbanked rail-trails pay real estate taxes even though easements are not taxable under the Kansas Constitution. Further, under the bill, trail managers would have to pay back taxes dating to the time the rail-trail was railbanked. This financial impact of this would be so great it would stop the rails-to-trails movement in its tracks. Doug Walker, Scott Allen, Frank Meyer and Dale Crawford, all with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, testified that the bill should be amended to exempt both the trail manager and the adjacents from having to pay taxes (this is the way it is for county roads).

According to Doug Walker, President of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, “For the first time, the rails-to-trails movement was able to mobilize trail supporters statewide. Many legislators commented on how many emails they received. Rep. Arpke from Salina said he’d received 75 emails in opposition to the bill which he called ‘unheard of’. I feel that perhaps the tide has turned in favor of trails in the legislature. It is now more urban and trails are a known quantity and supported by the general public. It may cause the farm bureau to think twice before introducing any more anti-trail legislation. I suggest that next year we prepare our own legislative agenda to remedy some of the Kansas Recreational Trails Act.”

Representatives of KanBikeWalk and Kansas Recreation and Parks Association also testified against the bill. The Sunflower Foundation, which is very respected in Topeka, had their lobbyists monitor the issue and they attended the hearing. It is likely the bill won’t be worked in committee this session, but can be reintroduced next year. Also, the text of the bill could be amended onto another moving piece of legislation this year.

How To Overcome Opposition To A Trail Project

Pennsylvania rails-to-trails pioneer Laurie Lafontaine has this to say about how she overcame trail opposition (Rails to Trails magazine Spring/Summer 2012):

“One way was networking. I started out asking my friends to introduce me to the key people (opinion makers) who lived along the railroad corridor. I was able to talk to them one-on-one. Then I would ask these people if they would mind hosting a meeting for their neighbors, and I offered to bring refreshments. I made so many cookies, muffins and cakes, you wouldn’t believe! By talking to small groups of people and letting them ask questions, I was able to build support. You have to listen to people because they have legitimate concerns. I also had the parks director introduce me to the other county officials, so we able to educate them. It’s like a campaign–you have to think all of it out ahead of time.”

Kansas Trail NewsKansas Trail News is published by Clark H. Coan, Public Information Specialist for Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc., P.O. Box 44-2043, Lawrence, KS 66044, 785-842-3458. Reprinted with permission. If you have any trail news you’d like to share, please contact us.

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By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web’s premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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