For more than three decades, the Spring River Recreation Trail has been a work in progress, thanks at least in part to the efforts of one local nonprofit.
The Spring River Corridor Foundation was established in 1987 with the mission of assisting the city of Roswell with generating support, maintaining and improving the trail. What is now the Spring River Recreation Trail spans 4.8 miles along Spring River from the Enchanted Lands Park on West Second Street and Sycamore Avenue east to Spring River Park & Zoo on Atkinson Avenue and College Boulevard.
A seven-member board governs the Corridor Foundation, which works with the city to improve the properties along the river that the city either owns or has right to use through easements. Changes made and money spent must be approved by the City Council.
Ivan Hall, vice president of the Corridor Foundation, has been involved with the development of the trail since 1982 when he was hired as city planner for Roswell. He has been with the Corridor Foundation from the beginning and thinks the trail adds to the quality of life in Roswell.
“What a beautiful asset this is for a city of our size,” Hall said about the trail.
Hall said he has heard from families who use the trail to either go on a family walk or bike ride. One couple even told him once that if not for the trail, they would have moved to Albuquerque rather than Roswell.
However, the trail is not just a resource for exercise enthusiasts and those with a passion for the outdoors, but has something for nearly everyone. Along the trail are a multitude of public parks and recreational amenities including a golf course, the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary, the Roswell Adult & Recreation Center and the Enchanted Lands Disc Golf Course, just to name a few.
The trail makes those attractions more visible and accessible to the public, Hall said.
The trail’s development began in 1981, according to Hall. He said the Roswell Parks and Recreation Department held a public hearing about creating what is now Enchanted Lands Park and at the hearing, there was a push by some to include a trail for biking and walking.
“And evidently the people who came to this public meeting said what we want is a trail in this park,” Hall said. As city planner, he worked with the city’s engineering and Parks and Recreation departments to design the layout and build the trails.
The first segment of what would become the Spring River Recreational Trail spanned about a mile. The reception to the trail was so positive, that in the early 1980s, the city included the idea for what would later become the Spring River Recreation Trail in its master plan. A long and arduous process followed that included fundraising and acquiring land along the river corridor, but in the late 1990s, the Enchanted Lands Park and the zoo were connected, Hall said.
In the early years of the Corridor Foundation, early fundraising efforts were only modestly successful, Hall said.
However, the city combined with the work of one longtime Corridor Foundation board member, Sally Toles, who helped gin up support for the trail, Hall said. He added that Toles — who still is a Corridor Foundation board member — would lobby city officials, state and federal lawmakers and citizens to support efforts to improve the trail.
“She just always — to her credit — has always been a leader who pushes things and says, ‘You know, we can’t forget that this is something that needs to be done,’ and would continue to promote efforts to make something happen,” Hall said.
Hall said Toles would often set up bike rides for lawmakers and citizens alike to win their support on efforts to maintain and improve the parkway.
“And the rest of us would be in awe of how much she would get done,” he said.
The Corridor Foundation has also worked with the city in applying for grants. Hall said that in the 1990s, the foundation successfully applied for a $90,000 grant with MainStreet New Mexico for the Robert H. Goddard sculpture and rocket gantry out by the Roswell Museum and Art Center.
“That was a beautiful project,” Hall said.
Other efforts for improvements the Corridor Foundation helped champion include working with the now-defunct Community Improvement Commission to help sell bricks that people could have their names engraved on for a fee. The bricks were then laid in a patio near the Roswell Convention Center.
Two baskets on the Enchanted Lands Disc Golf Course were funded by the Corridor Foundation. In addition to working with the city, the foundation has coordinated with other organizations such as when the money from the Roswell High School Reunion Committee was not used. The foundation worked with Character Counts! to use the money to purchase benches for the Character Counts! respite area near Hole 13 where people can sit and enjoy the scenery.
“Nice little place to sit, particularly if you are tired from riding a bike or walking on the trail,” Hall said of the respite area.
And the Corridor Foundation also voiced support and convinced the state to put federal funds, which New Mexico received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to rehabilitate a one-block area of the Spring River channel between the Museum and Art Center and the Convention Center.
The stone in that segment of the riverbed was crumbling and Hall said the price tag for the rehabilitation effort eventually came to about $300,000.
However, the Corridor Foundation does not deserve all the credit for the upkeep of the parkway. Hall said the city has been great a partner when it comes to improving the trail, especially Parks and Recreation and the Engineering Department.
Hall said that while people might come up with an idea, it is engineering that helps make it a reality.
“None of these things would have been done without the Engineering Department saying, ‘Hey, you got an idea and the city likes your idea, but you don’t know diddly about how much it is going to cost and how it is going to be built,” he said.
Despite its achievements and development, the Corridor Foundation and the city are not finished with their work. Hall said one of the main objectives now is to connect the Spring River Parkway with other existing trails in the city.
In particular, a push to connect the Spring River Recreational Trail with the Cielo Grande Trail. Hall said doing so would not only be advantageous for those who use the trail, but will allow funds donated to the Corridor Foundation that are restricted to the use of public arts improvements to be used for the area near the Roswell Recreation & Aquatic Center.
He added that members of the Corridor Foundation are working with the city to hopefully put in place a bicycle rental program at the Recreation & Aquatic Center where people can rent bikes. According to previous reporting in the Roswell Daily Record, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted 4 to 0 in May to accept a donation of 10 bicycles from the Corridor Foundation and implement a bike rental program at the Recreation & Aquatic Center.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.