Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Proponents of using an alleyway to connect two of Roswell’s pedestrian and bicycle trails echoed the city’s words that it is the easiest and least expensive option, while its opponents expressed concerns about losing what attracted them to the neighborhood.
Several people on both sides of the issue spoke at Monday’s meeting of the city of Roswell Infrastructure Committee. The topic was on the agenda for discussion only; no action was taken.
Residents on Wyoming Avenue submitted a petition against the proposal to use their alley as a pathway to connect the Spring River Recreation Trail with the trail at Cielo Grande Recreation Area.
The plan would close the alley to vehicle traffic and route bicycle and foot traffic through the alley, which is bordered by the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River on the west. Riverside Drive and Montana Avenue would finish the connection.
Residents say the plan would result in loss of their privacy and vehicle access, and an increase in crime.
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But two men who spoke in favor of the plan, both with the Spring River Corridor Foundation, say the connection will benefit the community.
“Roswell has a fairly good array of bike and hike trails, but they’re not connected. That’s the only reason why we hammer on this with the city or the citizens that I know have valid concerns,” Ivan Hall said. “Having the great potential to connect a 5-mile recreation trail to a 2-mile recreation trail has a lot of benefits for the Joe Blows of this town.
“People that have health issues and like to drive from anywhere in town, park at Cielo Grande or park at Cahoon Park, get out and exercise, this could be a tremendous asset to the city. Eight miles of connected trail, free of traffic,” he said.
Three property owners on Wyoming Avenue spoke against the plan.
Matt and Susan Hinkel live at the end of the alley on Riverside Drive and said they were most concerned about privacy in their backyard, which has a 3-foot high fence around it.
“We have a pool back there. What you’d be doing is inviting Roswell to get a tour of our backyard. It’s freaky when you come out of the water and someone is looking through your fence right at you,” Matt Hinkel said.
“I see up to 3,000 to 4,000 people a day walking down Spring River with bikes, skateboards and everything. You bring that traffic behind my house, that’s not going to be fun for us. That’s going to be a severe invasion of our privacy,” he said.
Hall disputed Hinkel’s figures.
“I’m sorry about the privacy aspect, but there’s not going to be thousands of people going down that alley. There never has been, never will be that many. There just aren’t that many people out there,” he said.
Hinkel and neighbors Richard Hesse — who originated a petition — and Steven Vickers also expressed concern about an increase in crime.
“You’re also going to have a few bad apples casing houses back there for burglarization,” Hinkel said.
Vickers, who said that at 33, he wanted to represent those in the median age of Roswell, also questioned spending the money for the project when there are other needs.
In response to a question from Vickers, City Engineer Louis Najar said no funds have yet been established for the plan but that such money would come from general funds from either the Engineering or Parks and Recreation departments. That money would come largely from gross receipts taxes.
The Wyoming alley proposal was originally estimated to cost $6,000, Najar said, but that will increase because the alley is now in need of a pavement overlay. That will be done once a water valve replacement project is complete this summer.
“I believe there are streets, water lines, sewer lines that need to be fixed where that money could be better allocated at this point,” Vickers said.
Bob Edwards, also with the Spring River Corridor Foundation, said the residents’ concerns are similar to what was voiced by Fourth Street residents when the Spring River trail was proposed.
“This is another situation of NIMBY — not in my backyard,” he said.
Edwards addressed the residents’ concerns about the alley being blocked to vehicle access. Several of the residents keep trailers or recreational vehicles in their backyards. They also discussed the inconvenience of the city removing the 300-gallon trash dumpsters from the alley and replacing them with 96-gallon containers that have to be placed at the curb on Wyoming. The change was made as part of the water valve project, but residents are worried it will be permanent.
Edwards said the alley could be blocked off with barriers that could be unlocked and residents and drivers of the Solid Waste Department’s grappler trucks given a key.
Several other options are available for connecting the trails, including turning Montana Avenue into a “bike boulevard” with lanes marked as shared between bicycles and motor vehicles. The trails could also be connected at the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary over unimproved land.
The draft master plan does not include estimated costs for outlined projects, but Hall said the alternative routes would each cost well over $100,000.
The foundation has plans to help pay about half the cost of the Wyoming alley project, Edwards said.
“The Spring River Corridor Foundation has been trying to make these two trails connect for five years now. We have a little bit of funds. We’d like to help the city get it done, but we can’t participate at the level of a Montana connection or a bird sanctuary connection. That’s way out of our means,” Hall said.
Hinkel suggested Mississippi Street, two blocks to the east, would be a safer connection between the trails. That street also joins with Riverside.
“The intersection at Wyoming and Riverside is dangerous. People do not stop for that stop sign,” Hinkel said. At the other end of the alley, golfers leaving the Nancy Lopez parking lot might not see cyclists or pedestrians, either, he said.
“Mississippi has no traffic on it to say and it’s 40-foot wide. It’s a good street in good shape and it kicks out at the Cielo Grande,” he said.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.