From the Edmond Sun:
EDMOND — Edmond residents took part in a discussion this week highlighting the environmental assessment for the proposed Arcadia Lake Multi-Use Trail Project. The public workshop was hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The 18-20 mile Edmond trail would wrap around Arcadia Lake. Nearby residents of the proposed trails voiced their concerns and questions about the project to the corps.
“We have lots of concerns for safety and privacy,” said Janie Tigert, nearby resident of the proposed trail. “That’s why we moved out here because it was private 20 years ago. Now, they’re going to be a few feet behind our fence. We feel like it’s a possible fire hazard. I’m worried about tree removal.”
Longtime Edmond resident Ken Rees said he doesn’t believe a land owner should have a presumption of privacy when their property adjoins public land.
“This was always intended for public access,” Rees said.
Mercy Health Chief Operating Officer David Tew of Edmond explained that the goal of the Arcadia Lake Coalition is to establish a multi-use paved bike and jogging trail around Arcadia Lake by 2014. The needs of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are also tailored into the plan, Tew said.
The idea is for the City of Edmond to fund the engineering design costs while private investment will pay for constructing the lake trail. The Edmond City Council approved $200,000 of park tax funds in September for preliminary engineering services for part of a trail to extend around Arcadia Lake.
The City of Edmond is doing the environmental assessment of the land intended for trail use, said Steve Nolan, representing the Corps of Engineers. The corps owns the property where the trail would be built and has authority to approve where it goes.
“We’ll take a look at it and work with the contractor and the city to make sure it’s up to our requirements,” he said. “And then we’ll issue a draft of the environmental assessment.”
The assessment also will be reviewed by all related federal and state environmental agencies, he said. Federal laws also will require a survey of cultural resources including archeological significance. And Nolan said the corps doesn’t like to see construction in a flood plain.
“One of our concerns as horse people in areas like this where you’re already in the flood plain, is how do we share this area as a horse trail when it’s really narrow,” Jeanette Zeller said. “We can only criss-cross so many places for safety.”
Larry Warner said he is concerned the pristine, quiet aspects of Arcadia Lake would be compromised by development. Development in Edmond has already diminished the green-belt areas of the city, he said. The trail also would push wildlife into human habitats where they should not be, Tigert said.
“I ride my bicycle in the neighborhood and in Edmond and I don’t want to see this turn into another Lake Hefner,” Warner said. “… I don’t want to see something way different from what we have out there.”
Rees said Edmond is falling behind peer cities that are developing recreational bike trails. Arcadia Lake brings an attractive destination point for the community, Rees said.
Assistant City Manager Steve Commons said people who stay on the trail would not pay a park fee. An honor system would be created for people who leave the trail to enter the parks.
“The trail is to be available for the public to use,” Commons said. “We probably would set up a system if there were regular users who want to use park amenities, much like the equestrians, we can have an annual pass, but if they drive their car in, they’re going to pay.”
Edmond’s master plan calls for Edmond Trails to extend from Mitch Park to Arcadia Lake. So far only segments of the trails have been completed. Mitch Park trails will need to link to a trail at the Covell Underpass, which extends to Danforth.
The city already has spent $3.7 million on the trail system since voters approved the 2000 Capital Improvement Sales Tax, according to city records. The council has already approved funding to build a multi-use trail to go under Interstate 35 to connect at Arcadia Lake’s Spring Creek Park.