The paving for the Maryland Farms Greenway Trail, an approximately 1-mile trail from Powell Park to the Maryland Farms YMCA, was approved in a 4-3 vote during the July 8 commission meeting. Construction on the project, budgeted at $918,000, could start as early as August and is slated to be complete by the end of the year. City Manager Kirk Bednar said of the $918,000 budget, $100,000 is for contingencies, meaning the full amount would only be used for unforeseen circumstances.
Planning for the trail dates back to 2017, when the city voted to amend the zoning of the land to allow for a greenway. Prior to that, the land had been specially zoned to stay undeveloped since 1997. Design work on the trail was completed earlier this year, according to the city.
The original plans for the trail would have connected Powell Park to Maryland Farms Park, however once the project was sent out to bid, costs for the trail totaled over $1.1 million. To save costs, Bednar said the project was split into two phases, the first of which will end at the rear side of the YMCA. A future second phase, which would complete the trail, will be considered in future capital improvement planning, according to city documents.
Commissioners Mark Gorman and Susannah Macmillan and Vice Mayor Ken Travis voted against the item. Gorman said he did not feel comfortable approving the project after residents had been promised years ago the land would not be developed, while Travis and Macmillan said the project would not be accessible enough or used enough by most residents.
Commissioners Nelson Andrews, Anne Dunn and Regina Smithson and Mayor Rhea Little voted for the trail, citing the need for more trails on the west side of town and providing a safe place for students and families to exercise.