Funds needed to kick off city trails project

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

By Brian McCauley

The Paola Pathways task force recently announced it is launching a community-wide campaign to enhance fundraising efforts to start building the first phase of a pedestrian/bicycle trail system in Paola.

In April, the task force will be applying for a 50/50 matching grant from the Sunflower Foundation to help fund the inaugural trail in Wallace Park. The amount that can be requested depends on the total the group has raised, according to a news release.

The group already has received $1,000 from the transient guest tax fund and $2,500 from a corporate sponsorship from Miami County Medical Center, but task force members know more is needed to make the trail system a reality. The task force is calling on businesses and residents to support the community project by helping raise an additional $5,000 by April 30.

“The Sunflower Foundation’s matching grant would provide the funds to complete the first mile of trail, as well as the trail-head kiosk,” said Jim Pritchard, task force chairperson. “With the help and support of the community, we can exceed our goal and be on the way to building a safe and convenient web of trails that will connect our community.”

The first section of trail will loop around Rock Stadium and the soccer fields south of the Miami County Fairgrounds in Wallace Park. The city of Paola provided in-kind contributions of equipment and labor by having the city’s public works department crew clear underbrush for the 8-foot wide path along Bull Creek this winter. Ground will not be broken until enough money is raised to purchase the limestone base material, according to the release.

“According to common pedometer readings, the average person takes 2,000 steps per mile,” the release states. “Public Works Director Craig Browning, who is coordinating construction, estimates that the limestone screenings will cost about $10,000 for every mile of trail. That equates to $5 per step.”

There will eventually be three trail-heads in Wallace Park that will each feature a kiosk and a patio of brick pavers. In order to stimulate donations, those contributing $50 or more can order a personalized paver with individual names, place of business or in memory of a loved one engraved on it, according to the release.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made to the city of Paola (include Paola Pathways in the memo notation of a check). Donations should be dropped off or mailed to Paola City Hall at 19 E. Peoria St.

Those interested in learning more about the trail system can visit www.cityofpaola.com and click on the Paola Pathways link.