Blazing new trails across Paola

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

By Brian McCauley

Life is about to get easier for walkers, joggers and cyclists in Paola.

Whether residents are looking for a route to take a brisk run to Lake Miola or in search of a nature trail to explore on a Sunday afternoon, Paola Pathways is looking to provide safe surfaces for everyone.

Earlier this summer, Paola officials announced that the city received a matching grant from the Sunflower Foundation that will allow for the construction of a trails system at Wallace Park. The grant, along with local donations collected by Paola Pathways members, was enough to fund the first phase — 3.5 miles of trails through wooded areas in Wallace Park.

After clearing and burning brush in multiple areas, Paola Public Works crews members began constructing the trail last week using limestone screenings. The screenings were poured onto the path and then packed and smoothed out to create a flat, hard surface for the trail.

City Manager Jay Wieland and Public Works Director Craig Browning personally surveyed the project Oct. 9. Browning was pleased with the progress, and he said he expects all 3.5 miles of trails to be complete by mid-November.

Wieland said he is happy residents will be able to explore parts of the park that were previously unreachable. He particularly liked a portion of the trail that hugs the bank of Bull Creek, providing a picturesque view of the bubbling brook.

“This would be a great place for a bench,” Wieland told Browning.

Although Wallace Park is the focus point, Paola Pathways is also looking to create pedestrian routes across the city. Some Paola Pathways funding, along with funds from Paola USD 368 and Lighthouse Presbyterian Church, recently was used to install an 8-foot wide asphalt sidewalk along Hedge Lane from Panther Drive to Industrial Park Drive.

The sidewalk fulfills Paola Pathways’ plan of creating a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists to get to Lake Miola.