Whether they like to walk, jog or bicycle, Neosho residents now have a new trail to enjoy.
And more are being planned.
The mostly completed addition to Neosho's trail network skirts around the east side of the city soccer fields, between the fields and Hickory Creek, to connect Spring Street with McKinney Street/Missouri Highway 86 at Kwik Mart convenience store. It then continues westward as a sidewalk for more than 500 feet to end at a bridge.
Though technically an improved extension of the current Morse Park trail, the new pathway is concrete, not asphalt, and is a comfortable 10 feet wide.
The project was mostly funded by a $146,800 surface transportation program grant the Missouri Department of Transportation, along with a $36,700 cost share from the Neosho Area Business and Industry Foundation, Inc. (NABIFI). A portion of the state and NABIFI money was for engineering services and design, and the city chipped in about $45,000 toward construction costs, after bids came in over initial projections.
The total construction price was $191,860. Bennet, Inc., of Lamar, Mo., was awarded the contract as the lowest bidder. The city chose concrete over asphalt because there was only a $10,000 cost difference between the two, and it was believed that concrete would last longer.
Neosho City Manager Troy Royer said Wednesday that there are a few things left to wrap up on the concrete trail, but said they should be finished by the end of the week. He said the city plans to do some additional work later on, such as adding more bollards to keep vehicles off the path.
Meanwhile, both pedestrians and bicyclists are already using it.
“I heard there was a new trail and I wanted to try it out,” one anonymous bicyclist told the Daily News Wednesday as she sped by.
Royer said he heard that a lot of people are taking advantage of the trail, and said he hopes word gets out to the rest of the community about it.
“From the comments I’ve received, people like it because it’s nice, it’s wide, and they like that it is concrete,” Royer said. “It’s a great looking trail.”
The next planned trail project will reconstruct sidewalks on Spring Street from the Neosho Square east to the Lampo Community Center, at 500 E. Spring St., where it is intended to hook into another possible future trail. That project is also mostly funded by a MoDOT surface transportation program grant.
Additionally, the city will apply for the same matching grant this year for construction of another bike and pedestrian trail to branch off the existing trail just south of North Wood Street, near the historic Combs House, and run parallel to La-Z-Boy Drive to the Lampo Center. From there, it would continue on behind the Lampo Center to connect back with the existing trail. Royer said that before reaching the Lampo Center, part of the trail may also split off to loop around the skatepark and hook back into the original trail.
Page 2 of 2 - Royer said the city may also seek funding, with the council’s approval, for two additional trail projects in this year’s grant application.
The first of those possible projects includes a new sidewalk in front of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery and west to Hamilton Street, where it would continue to the south and then turn east onto Park Street to end at the site of the former Benton School, where Royer said a neighborhood park may eventually be created.
The second idea is to build paths through the green space where the now-demolished First Baptist Church stood on the corner of Main Street and Jefferson Street. The paths would come off the sidewalks on Main and Jefferson and lead to a concrete pad where Royer said a gazebo may be built. Incidentally, he said he also envisions benches throughout that green space as well.
Royer noted the latter two projects are still in the imagination stage, and haven’t yet been approved by council.
Royer also mentioned that the closed portion of the Neosho Golf Course is available as a public walking and bicycle trail, with the old cart path serving that purpose. He said that he still intends for signs to be posted at the golf course parking lot to let more people know of the trail’s availability.
Royer said that having pedestrian and bicycle trails enhances the quality of life in Neosho, which in turn makes the city more of an attractive place to locate to.
“Economic development is not just about business, we have also got to provide things to the citizens to make people want to come live here,” Royer said. “What do we have to offer them? It’s a quality of life issue. We can get businesses here, but what are we going to do to get the people here? And from what everyone has told me, they love the trails. It’s just something that all ages can do. Young, old and middle age, it doesn’t matter. Families or individuals, it doesn’t matter. Trails are great.”