Both during the regular city council meeting for Prairie City and at an earlier public forum, council along with several community members discussed the route through town for the Red Rock Prairie Trail bike trail. Rich Voelker from Snyder and Associates, the firm working to plan the trail’s path, was on hand to review the proposed routes and make any alterations needed.
Several routes through town were provided to the council, each meandering through the downtown area along a different path. Through a Hometown Pride study conducted, the final route would work to avoid Heartland Co-op and bring people by the downtown square.
“As a non-biker citizen, but someone who walks from the south side to the post office on Main Street, I often avoid that street if it is harvest time or if the dryers are running because it is so loud and there is a lot of dust,” Hometown Price committee member Linda Frasier said. “I think it would be a very unpleasant environment for many months out of the years for pedestrians or cyclist.”
A variety of routes were proposed for the trail including tracking north of the square through residential areas, utilizing an alleyway on the west side of the square, hitting each side of the square, traveling in front of store fronts and city hall or moving along former Highway 163, with variations to each route. Along with the different routes were different price points, some almost double the cost of others, depending on the length of the trail that would need to be completed.
Bill Chezik, director of safety and regulations for Heartland Co-op, gave his concerns and recommendations for traveling near the truck, tractor and semi-trailer heavy business with bicycles.
“I am here to gather some information, first and foremost, about the exceptions you want from us,” Chezik said. “Also, I would agree, I am a safety person first and foremost, my concern is the safety of bikers because certain times of year … we are going to be moving a lot of product through the elevator and my concern is who is on that bike path, coming off of the scale there is a blind side to the south. Second, if it is made out of asphalt, it isn’t going to last very long. Our customers are going to rip it apart.”
The consensus among those in attendance was to avoid the co-op but finding the right path does present challenges. Every trail idea had pros and cons to contend with along with personal opinions based on how each person uses the areas. From business owners wanting to bring the trail near their properties to citizens concerned about losing parking spaces, the process to find a final path will incorporation many factors.
“I think the bike trails are an important part of maintaining a healthy, strong community,” economic development committee member Deb Townsend said. “I think it is great we are looking at this to help keep moving forward.”
Two paths, one running along the north side of downtown with alternative routes and a second focused toward the south side of downtown, also with alternative routes, were given to Voelker to work with to come up with additional options for the council to review and eventually approve for the bike trial.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or firstname.lastname@example.org