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April 25, 2012

Heritage Trails Committee moves ahead on Duncan trails project

DUNCAN — After seeing conceptual drawings of the proposed 5k trail that would tie multiple parts of the city of Duncan together, the Heritage Trails Committee members decided to continue work toward finalizing plans before serious fundraising can happen.

The boardroom at the Simmons Center was filled to capacity Tuesday afternoon as representatives from the city of Duncan, Duncan Public Schools, Duncan Chamber of Commerce, Duncan Regional Hospital and others met to hear a presentation from E.D. Hill Surveying & Engineering President Randy Hill about the conceptual layout of the trail.

“We’re taking baby steps, and this was a big one to get a conceptual design of the trail,” Chairperson Scott Stone said. “I think it’ll be incredible for Duncan as a whole and will help improve our quality of life.”

The first phase of the proposed 10-feet-wide trail project will see the trail starting at the Simmons Center, running north behind the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center toward Elk Avenue and east toward and through the DRH campus, running around Horace Mann Elementary and south on Whisenant until turning west near Red Bud Avenue and connecting with the Whisenant Walking Trail before returning to the Simmons Center.

The drawings assembled displayed multiple trails that could be constructed in later phases, such as a trail from behind the CTHC heading northeast toward Elk Avenue and reconnecting with the main trail just east of the Sanford Children’s Clinic.

While the committee has been meeting for more than a year, there are still a number of questions in relation to funding and planning to be answered.

Areas where the trail will need to be elevated to handle flooding are still be discussed, as well as the methods for handling those areas.

The cost of the project has not been estimated, with decisions like the material to construct the trail yet to be made.

“Trails have been shown to benefit how the community looks to visitors as well as providing a benefit to the citizens,” Scott said. “We have taken this as a logical first step to address the Simmons Center, schools and hospital.”

In terms of funding, the committee has one advantage in the proposed project — multiple types of organizations are involved in process. The variety of organizations opens up avenues of funds and grants that might not have been available if the wide range had not partnered together on the project.

Toward the end of the meeting, the committee members decided that, as E.D. Hill starts to finalize a master plan, the members would report to their respective boards and solicit questions and thoughts before the next committee meeting.

“While it maybe one to two or even three years down the road, until we are walking on them, this is the framework we work within and we want the public to be enthused about this,” Stone said.

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