Neosho is applying for another state grant for bike and pedestrian trails, though the project scope has been scaled back.
City Manager Troy Royer said last week that an application for a surface transportation program grant would likely be submitted this week to the Missouri Department of Transportation. It's the same matching grant that enabled the city to recently build the new 10-foot wide concrete trail around the soccer fields and connecting Spring Street with McKinney Street. Another mostly MoDOT-funded trail project already in the works will reconstruct sidewalks on Spring Street from the Neosho Square east to the Lampo Community Center, at 500 E. Spring St.
The total combined estimated cost of the two proposed projects this time around would be $427,550 and would require a 20 percent local cost share.
Originally, Royer had wanted the latest round of trail projects to include a paved bike and pedestrian path that would 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. As Royer had planned it, before reaching the Lampo Center, part of the trail would also split off to loop around the skate park and hook back into the original trail. However, the city was recently informed that MoDOT would likely not approve that looping trail project, as it would be connecting an existing trail with itself, rather than creating a new pathway from one point to another.
But Royer said that the city may still someday decide to pay for the looping trail itself, even if it is only gravel.
“It's nice to walk a loop, rather than up and back, up and back,” Royer said. “That's still in the back of my mind. I'd still like to do that eventually. It just won't be part of the grant application process this time.”
Another project that probably won't be included in the grant application, as had been proposed, is funding to repair the historic concrete steps in Big Spring Park. The steps, built in 1923 and connecting High Street with Spring Street, are in danger of being closed off permanently as a liability issue. That's because, according to city development services director Dana Daniel, the grant application specifically asks if projects are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Daniel said he is still waiting on a definite answer on if the steps might still qualify for funding somehow, but in the meantime isn't counting on including the project in at least this grant application.
Meanwhile, other projects should have a better shot, according to Daniel.
One includes a new sidewalk continuing off the recently built sidewalk on McKinney Street. It would continue across the street and run west to replace and widen the existing sidewalk in front of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery and continue to Hamilton Street, where it would turn south and then east onto Park Street to end at the site of the former Benton School, where Royer said a neighborhood park may eventually be created. Neighborhood parks are a feature that some citizens have called for, most recently at a public meeting in September.
Page 2 of 2 - Total estimated, pre-bid cost on that project is $279,500. Of that, the local match would be $69,500. In the last trail project the city received private donations to cover its portion, though additional monies were ultimately required.
The other project to be included in the grant application is paved 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.
The total estimated cost of that project is $148,050, with the local share being $41,050.
If awarded the grant, Royer said the two projects will add to the city's trail network. At one time, the city had a parks master plan that outlined 12 miles worth of new trails throughout Neosho. Though that was before Royer's time, he said he would still like to see the plan eventually implemented, if possible.
“I think trails just add another recreational offering to the community,” Royer said. “Trails are something that all ages can enjoy. It's not just playground equipment, it's not just something for the seniors, it's something you can do with your kids, with anyone else or by yourself. Just go walk, you know? It's a connectivity from one end to town to the other through a trail system. It's something people can enjoy as a family.”
Separate from the upcoming grant application, the now-closed westernmost nine holes course at the Neosho Golf Course is also available as a public walking and bicycle trail, with the old cart path serving that purpose. That was formerly known as the Lakes course, and those signs are still up to designate it. However, Royer has said that he still intends for signs to be posted at the golf course to let more people know of the trail's availability.