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Committee recommends funding for trails connection

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City Engineer Louis Najar talks about options for connecting Cielo Grande Recreation Area and the Spring River Trail during Monday’s meeting of the Roswell City Council Infrastructure Committee. The committee voted to recommend the full council support an application for federal funds to connect the trails. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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The full Roswell City Council will not yet discuss which option to choose for connecting the Spring River Trail to Cielo Grande Recreation area, but it will consider at its next meeting an option to fund it.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend for the council’s July 8 regular agenda a resolution supporting an application for $225,000 in federal funding to construct a connection between the two trails. The committee also talked about the options for the connection, although that was not a part of the resolution.

The decision of how to connect the trails was tabled last week by the General Services Committee on Wednesday. Members of that committee sought further information regarding a variation of an option previously considered that met opposition from adjacent homeowners.

The application for the Transportation Alternative Program funding through the New Mexico Department of Transportation is not dependent on that decision, City Engineer Louis Najar told the Infrastructure Committee members Monday.

“It doesn’t matter at this time because this application is independent of all that discussion that’s going on because this is just asking for money,” Najar said.

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Even if the city council decides on an option and was to use a different funding source, Najar said, the TAP funding, if awarded, could be used to build another connection between the two trails.

“We all know Spring River Trail is the most-used trail. We all know that Cielo Grande is our up-and-coming pride of Roswell there with the sports complex and everything else. Having more than one connection makes complete sense,” Najar said.

The $225,000 is based on the most expensive of the four options the city is looking at for a connection, Najar said. If awarded, the funding would be available in fiscal year 2023, which begins in June 2022. The city would be required to match 14.56% of the funds, or $32,760, and would be reimbursed for the remaining $192,240.

Committee Chair Jacob Roebuck said it’s important for the city to offer a safe pedestrian route to Cielo Grande and the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center from the east. He noted College Boulevard has heavy vehicle traffic and no sidewalks.

“There’s not really any kind of great way to get to Cielo Grande on foot from due east outside of walking on the streets themselves,” he said.

The city has been presented with four options to connect the two trails. Option No. 1 — the most expensive of the four — would build a trail from the southwest portion of Cielo Grande along an old runway of the Old Municipal Airport west to Sycamore Avenue, then loop south to Eighth Street to link to the trail in the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center. That trail connects to the Spring River Trail. The Parks and Recreation Commission voted last week to recommend that option.

It is the most expensive in part because a pedestrian bridge would have to be built across an arroyo, Najar said.

Option 2 would follow the same runway for a shorter distance and would cross Eighth Street to continue on the south side of the street to the bird sanctuary. But Roebuck noted the city has plans to realign Eighth Street to the north from Sycamore to the entrance of the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River.

“That would just wipe that out,” he said of that option.

Roebuck said he thought the best option would be Option 3, which would use the alley between Wyoming Street and the golf course to connect to Riverside Drive and then to Cahoon Park.

“From a transportation standpoint, it makes the most sense,” he said.

Property owners along the alley have objected to the plan, citing concerns about access for their vehicles and privacy. They have reportedly hired lawyers to fight that option.

Roebuck said he thought it would be possible to “carve off a little bit” of the golf course to create a variation of that option.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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