September 10, 2014
By Brian McCauley
While Paola residents continue to discover and explore the new trails at Wallace Park, members of the Paola Pathways group are setting their sights on their next big undertaking — a trail surrounding Lake Miola.
The lake trail, which is the second big phase of the Paola Pathways master plan, is a lot closer to being reality after it recently was announced that Paola has received another grant from the Sunflower Foundation. The grant of about $30,000 will help fund the creation of a six-mile trail along East and West Lake Miola Road around the lake.
Mike Gotfredson, city planner and grant writer for Paola Pathways, said the funding is a matching grant, and Paola Pathways task force members are already planning fundraising opportunities to gather the necessary matching funds.
The city received a similar matching grant from the Sunflower Foundation last year to help fund the construction of the trails at Wallace Park.
Gotfredson said he’s convinced that the strong community support for the Wallace Park project played a big role in Sunflower deciding to give more money to the city for the next phase. “They were impressed with what we accomplished at Wallace Park,” Gotfredson said.
Members of the Paola Pathways Task Force have said that their ultimate goal is to create trails and cycling lanes connecting Wallace Park with Lake Miola and other parts of the city. A bike lane has already been added to Hospital Drive, and Paola Pathways funding, along with funds from Paola USD 368 and Lighthouse Presbyterian Church, was used to install an 8-foot wide asphalt sidewalk along Hedge Lane from Panther Drive to Industrial Park Drive heading toward the lake.
“It is so gratifying to see walkers, runners and bicyclists using the trails and bike lanes,” said Peg Wieland, Paola Pathways Task Force member. “We are hopeful that users will continue to support the creation of the trail system so that we can eventually connect our community with a safe, high quality trail system that allows all ages a convenient and healthy alternative way to get around town.”
Gotfredson said the grant goes through the spring of 2016, and city crews likely will work on the Lake Miola trails during the slower part of their work year between October and March. It is planned to be made of limestone screenings just like the Wallace Park trails, and Gotfredson said a long-term plan includes creating a 5K course around the lake that would allow for races to be held without closing the road.