Galena committee to consider bike/hike trail along Shoal Creek

08/13/2013 09:56

August 12, 2013

Galena committee to consider bike/hike trail along Shoal Creek

Trail could possibly connect to Joplin

GALENA, Kan. — A committee will meet for the first time today (Aug. 13) to discuss the possibility of creating a biking and walking trail along Shoal Creek in Southeast Kansas, possibly connecting to Joplin.

Kevin Cure, a Galena attorney and bicyclist, is spearheading the effort. He said he sees such a project as a potential draw to visitors, as well as an attraction for residents and it would make use of an area known for its natural beauty.

The committee, besides Cure, will include Linda Phipps, a longtime Galena teacher who founded the Southeast Kansas Nature Center at Schermerhorn Park; Jennifer Rader, the new director of the center who assumed Phipps’ duties upon her retirement; city council member Ashley Qualls; and Cherokee County commissioner Pat Collins.

Cure said the committee meeting would focus on preliminary aspects of developing a trail, including the possibility of forming a non-profit organization in order to qualify for tax deductions, various grants that might provide funding, whether to expand the committee to include Missouri residents, and the legal aspects of such a project.

“This has been kicked around in my head for about two years. I ride my bike often, and I think how beautiful it would be to run a trail from Schermerhorn Park to at least the Kansas-Missouri state line road.  ... It’s one of the most scenic areas in the region and I think it would really draw people.”

Cure’s decision to act on his idea was inspired by an accident while riding his bike in traffic last week.

“I really don’t like being on streets,” he said.

He envisions a trail running along the north bank of Shoal Creek from Schermerhorn Park, which is owned by the city, to the Missouri state line with a possible connection to Central City Road, 32nd Street or McClelland Park in Joplin.

He said he believes it would draw additional visitors to the nature center, which recently came under the direction of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and could pave the way for possible future float trips on Shoal Creek.

“It lends itself to furthering canoeing and floating opportunities locally instead of long drives such as Elk River, and people who want to make shorter float trips — maybe two hours total,” he said. “It would help local restaurants, being at the end of the trail, and it would help Wildwood Ranch sell some real estate by having a trail so close.

“There’s also a health and fitness aspect, not to mention the public safety part of it — giving runners and cyclists and walkers a place to do so safely.”

Cure said one consideration will be the interests of property owners along the creek.

“But we also have to weigh the public good that would result from this,” he added.