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Neighbors upset over proposed trail project

The proposed project would convert a defunct railroad line into a 10-foot wide path for bikers and walkers.

Posted: Sep 13, 2018 10:25 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2018 1:53 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Tension is building between city officials and some homeowners in St. Joseph's north end.

City officials met Wednesday with homeowners on Blackwell road who are angry about a proposed trail project.

"This just isn't good and every neighbor that I have visited with from the south of me and the north of me is not happy about this situation at all," said Blackwell resident Travis Smith.

The proposed project would convert a defunct railroad line into a 10-foot wide path for bikers and walkers.

Our goal with the trail system is do hike and bike trails all over the city. It's kind of a rails-to-trails kind of project which has been done in multiple states all over the country," said Assistant Director of Public Works Brady McKinley.

Smith said homeowners received a letter this week notifying them that the city was planning to acquire land for sections of the trail. Smith wants the city to come up with a different plan for the trail.

"There's just huge safety concerns in this as well and have a huge floodgate of people come through my backyard," said Smith.

The city said the proposed trail would also make it safer for kids walking to school.

"We see kids that walk up Savannah road and then down our new sidewalks on Cook road to go to Robidoux Middle School, so this would provide an avenue in this area to get to school safely when they walk," said McKinley.

Smith doesn't agree. He believes the plan doesn't make sense if the goal is safety.

"We don't have sidewalks on Blackwell to lead you to here. So to me, I think you are going to encourage children who do not walk down Blackwell now to try to walk down it and that's just the wrong approach," said Smith.

Smith's other issue is liability.

"If a child was to be out here or take off and they go through my yard and they fall, break their ankle. It's on me. My liability," said Smith.

McKinley said the trail is currently only in planning stages and there is still plenty of time to work with residents on a plan everyone can be happy with.

"It starts with a conceptual design and we have public meetings we involve all the property owners that are affected and the public that's in that area to see if they might have a different idea than us," McKinley said. "Just because we came up with one idea doesn't mean we can't deviate from that."

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