Stop gap

MAPS 3 funded them, but the plan only provided for
construction in Oklahoma City, so they dead-end on the west and south
sides of Nichols Hills.

On
April 16, Planet Nichols Hills, a local chapter of the Oklahoma
Sustainability Network, sponsored a panel about the feasibility of
extending the trails. The trail from Lake Hefner currently ends on the
west border of Nichols Hills. The plan is to connect the Hefner trail to
the south edge of Nichols Hills where the OKC trails end at
Northwest 63rd and Grand Boulevard.

David
Poole, the city manager for Nichols Hills, said the city filed for a
grant through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

“We’ve
been looking at completing the trails since MAPS 3 passed,” Poole said.
“It’s too early to start talking about actual dates, but we’re hoping
the grant award will be in September.”

Randy Smith, public works director for Nichols Hills, said the grant would cover $200,000 of the cost.

“Right
now, we only have a rough estimate of the projected cost,” Smith said.
“It’s going to cost about $485,000 to extend the trails. Part of the
money will come from a bond that has already been approved to resurface
Grand Boulevard.”

Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Inc., pledged $400,000 to the project.

“We were going to provide
the materials and crew to do the work,” Hamm said, “but the city does
not allow non-city crews to work on city property. They decided to
pursue alternate funding.”

Hal
McKnight, chairman of the Oklahoma City Trails Advisory Committee, was a
member of the April 16 panel, along with former City Councilman Sam
Bowman and Bob Berry, president of D.C. Bass & Sons Construction
Co., of Enid.

As the former owner of local bike shop Wheeler Dealer Bicycles for more than 35 years, McKnight is a proponent of multiuse trails.

“As
multiuse trails become part of the consistent tapestry of a city, as
they are made accessible to the public, overall health increases,” he
said. “As Oklahoma City talks about bringing new businesses into the
metro, it’s important to know that overall public health strongly
determines where businesses locate. That is measured in part by multiuse
trails, parks, walkability, commuting options, etc. Increased traffic
on public trails also means increased public safety, due to the number
of people out and about. Studies indicate they also lead to an increase
in property values.”

McKnight
said the majority of Nichols Hills residents he spoke with recognize
the importance of connecting the trails, but money is a factor. “There
is no funding right now,” he said. “However, most people realize it’s a
good thing when the benefits are explained to them.”

Until
the funding is in place, McKnight said Planet Nichols Hills will focus
on increasing public awareness of how the trails can help improve the
overall health of a metro area that McKnight said “does not do well on
public health scores.”

Greg Horton

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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