Proposed Lamar Loop Could Expand Walking Trails Four-Fold

Walking Path Along Willow Creek, South of Park

Walking Path Along Willow Creek, South of Park

The proposed seven-mile Lamar Loop walking trail may come closer to reality following the Lamar City Council meeting on Monday, January 26.  The council, according to Emily Neischburg of Healthy Places and LiveWell Prowers County, will be asked for a resolution of support for the project.  “We’d like you all to show up at the meeting or write a letter supporting the project,” she asked the group who attended an informational meeting on the project this past Wednesday, January 7.  Neischburg added that community buy-in and awareness of the project is very important to its development.  She asked the group to help expand the message, “Commit to telling three other people you know about the Lamar Loop and what it means for our community.  The best way to spread the news is by word of mouth.”

The Loop will expand the length of current Lamar walking trails by almost four-fold.  “How many miles do you think we have in Lamar right now,” she asked the gathering?  The answer is about two miles and all of them are concentrated in one area on Lamar’s south side.  “The creation of the Loop will expand our trail system to about eight miles and extend to four areas of the community,” Neischburg explained.  The proposed trail will be 90% concrete and about 8 feet wide in most areas.  Rick Akers, Lamar Parks and Recreation Director, said the concrete will provide durability, decrease maintenance costs and allow the trail to be used for bicycles, skateboards, inline skating and even for horseback riders who will use a parallel pathway off the trail itself.

The audience recapped a long list of benefits the trail will provide to the community including: a free family activity, outdoor exercise, a safer path out of vehicle traffic, connect the community through the trail, provide lifestyle changes, provide group activities for rides or walks, appeal to older citizens and help promote economic growth for the community.

Neischburg explained there is an opportunity for a $1M grant from GoCO to help plan and facilitate the project, but intense competition exists in the state for funding several projects.  “We have been approved through the first phase of the application and made the first cut.  The second phase is more competitive as $8M worth of proposed projects is under consideration, but only $4M is funding is available, so we have to prove our commitment and our intent to receive this additional funding,” she stated.  Neischburg explained that most funding is around $350,000, and this ‘Paths to Parks’ grant is dedicated specifically to walking trails that are built within a park.  “Our concept is unique because the Lamar Loop will connect a series of walking trails that will connect the community.”  She estimated that additional funding from the Healthy Places Initiative would reduce thetimeline plans and construction from 15 years to as few as two to three to see the project completed.

By Russ Baldwin

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