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New option surfaces for city trails connection

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This map provided by the city of Roswell shows four options for connecting the Cielo Grande Recreation Area trails to portions of the Spring River Corridor Trails near Cahoon Park. A new option favored by the city engineer is to create a connecting pathway using painted striping along North Mississippi Avenue. (Submitted Graphic)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The city is offering yet another option in the years-long debate about how to connect the Cielo Grande Recreation Area walking and biking trails with the portions of the Spring River Corridor trails that are near Cahoon Park and the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River.

In a new option suggested by City Engineer Louis Najar during a Roswell City Council General Services meeting on Wednesday, an initial connection could be made between the trails by painting pedestrian and bike pathways on North Mississippi Avenue.

“The easiest, cheapest solution is to come over here up to Mississippi and restripe it,” said Najar.

After the meeting, he indicated that part of Mississippi Avenue could be painted as a biking and pedestrian trail and that a crosswalk could be painted across West Eighth Street between Mississippi Avenue and Cielo Grande.

Signage also would be placed to let people know about the connection. The Cielo Grande asphalt trail would be extended about 200 feet to reach Eighth Street, and a ramp compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards would be built on the north side of Eighth Street.

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The city councilors participating in the Wednesday meeting — Barry Foster, Jeanine Corn Best and Angela Moore — decided to refer that option and the other five options back to the city of Roswell Parks and Recreation Commission before any recommendation is made to the entire city council.

“I hate to delay us 30 days,” said Foster, who chairs the committee. “I just don’t want them to think, that all the work they have done, that we will bypass them.”

City councilors say they have been debating ways to connect the trails for about five years, and the nonprofit Friends of the Spring River Corridor have been urging them to make a decision, saying the group is willing to put some funds toward the project.

City councilors now have six options, although Najar said he deemed one of the six “unfeasible.”

The option Najar doesn’t like — suggested at the June 23 General Services meeting and called option 3A by the group — was to connect the trails by creating a new pathway inside the fence of the Nancy Lopez Golf Course at Spring River and near the existing alleyway of homes that front North Montana Avenue. That alleyway runs from Riverside Drive north to West Eighth Street.

Najar said that would prove costly and would take time because the fence would have to be removed and replaced, the golf course chipping path and cart path would have to be relocated, and the new walking trail would have to be created.

He estimated that the cost would be well above $200,000.

The cost for striping North Mississippi and doing the other work was not estimated, but Najar said costs are expected to be given to members of the Parks and Recreation Commission during the group’s next meeting on Aug. 16. He said during the meeting that painting the street would cost about $10,000.

The other options still being considered are Option 1, which would extend the Cielo Grande trail to the south, utilizing the old runway, so that it connects with the Spring River Corridor trail as it exits the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary on the south side of West Eighth Street. A 2018 cost estimate for that was $101,000.

Option 2 is similar, but would extend the Cielo Grande trail to the south at a different point and cross West Eighth Street near the greens to the golf course. The estimated cost in 2018 was put at $128,000.

Option 3 — an option favored by Best — is to use the alleyway behind the homes fronting North Montana and near the western edge of the golf course. Several homeowners have threatened lawsuits if that option is chosen because they have an easement for half of the alleyway. The city has the easement for the other half. The estimated cost in 2018 was $35,000, but has since been revised to $107,588.

Option 4 is to build a new sidewalk on a stretch of North Montana Avenue from Riverside Drive near the Cahoon Park tennis courts to West Eighth Street. According to park commission members, that option has just as many people opposing it as those who oppose the alley option. City councilors also worry about the amount of traffic at the Montana and West Eighth Street intersection. The 2018 estimated cost was $108,000.

Najar mentioned that whatever initial connection the city makes probably would not be the only one.

He said that the area is expected to change a great deal in coming years, with a large single-family-home subdivision planned nearby and new softball fields for Cielo Grande. A realignment of Eighth Street is also under consideration.

All those changes will alter traffic and pedestrian patterns, Najar said, and he noted that when he applied for state funding for the trail connections, he used the plural deliberately.

“A trail this big, two important pieces this big, should have more than one connection,” Najar said.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.