Clay Center, Kan. – A hiking and biking trails project around the Zoo Park has begun to take shape and is the first of several to come.
Funding for the project is coming from a $55,000 grant from the Sunflower Foundation for the trails which was match by the Clay Center Community Improvement Foundation with funding left over after developing Reed’s Park with a gift of $150,000.
Over the past few years, Clay Center Public Utilities has bought and cleared acreage on the west side of Huntress Creek. A trail on the west side could come within a block of Huntress Park where additional trails might be built, but it required a walking bridge over the creek.
In addition, to walk to Utility Park required walking on Fourth Street which has no sidewalks and is a narrow traffic area so the plan called for a new walking trail entrance south of the corner of 3rd and Grant.
Another part of the grant will be used to put in a 6 ft side walk from the corner of 3rd and Court at Garfield School to the new walking entrance for Utility Park.
The Sunflower grant also allowed for wayfinding signs in the community to direct visitors to the Murals, Zoo, Trails and other points of interest in Clay Center.
Grow Clay County said in a press release, the current grant has gained the imagination and cooperation from many entities. Grow Clay County wrote and assembled the grant application in a very short time as well as designed the wayfinding signs and plan. Kyle Bauer was instrumental in developing the Clay Center Exploration Trails Master Plan. Clay Center City Street Department has agreed to install the signs. Clay Center Public Utilities has cleared the land and prepared the bridge site. The Clay County Commission with the help of the County Road Department has donated 240 ft of 21 inch used I-beams for construction of the walking bridge. Bill Oetinger is arranging for the sidewalk contractors, consulting with engineers on bridge design, and will aid in bridge construction.
The project is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2022.
Ultimately this is the first of several trails’ projects over the next 5 years which involve grants and donations from many sources.
As envisioned, there will be a designated trail around the entire town which will provide for safe travel of school children to school and recreation, safe walking routes for older citizens to and from shopping and parks, recreation for families, an attraction to regional day travels to bike or hike the town, an attraction to families to locate to Clay Center, and the development of a healthy living lifestyle in the community.
If you wish to donate to the Clay Center Exploration Trails, please visit www.claycentercif.org or mail to 432 Court Street, Clay Center, KS 67432.