Turkey Creek trail back on Mission City Council agenda for design grant; no construction plans for missing portion

The trail is complete through Merriam, including this section near the Merriam Marketplace.
The trail is complete through Merriam, including this section near the Merriam Marketplace.

The Mission portion of the Turkey Creek trail, a 10-mile corridor that runs across northeast Johnson County and into Wyandotte County, is back on the agenda for the Mission City Council.

This time the council will only be considering application for a grant that could fund the design of the trail through Mission, not its actual construction. Last year the council gave back approximately $1 million in federal grant money that could have gone towards completion of the project when it decided not to include design costs in its 2014 budget. That shut down any construction plans for the Mission section.

During budget discussions this year, the council removed the project from the five-year Community Investment Program and a new grant application for construction funding was withdrawn by city staff.

The Turkey Creek trail was started in 1992 in Merriam and planned to cross through Merriam, Overland Park and Mission in Johnson County before continuing through Kansas City, Kan., and connecting into Missouri. It also would connect to Nall Park in Roeland Park. It connects a number of parks and the Merriam Marketplace with its walking and biking trail.

The Merriam and Overland Park sections in Johnson County are complete as are sections of the KCK route. Several parts in KCK are under construction. But the trail doesn’t connect without the Mission portion, which is not yet on the drawing board. After the council this year rejected including construction funds in its long-term plan, the Mission Community Development staff this week proposed a new grant application that would cover initial design, geotechnical work and surveying.

Under the new proposal, the city would apply for a $130,000 project which includes a local match of $39,000 to leverage federal grant money of $91,000. Community Development Director Martin Rivarola told the council that the initial design could help define the actual construction costs and right-of-way acquisition costs. The trail route has some steep grades and challenges such as getting under the I-635 bridge, Rivarola said.

Councilors Dave Shepard and Steve Lucas both expressed support for the project. Shepard called it a “great amenity for the northeast” and Lucas said there are residents “who see this as an important project.”

Amy Miller said the trail, which runs through northwest Mission, “does not bring anybody into the heart of Mission.” She preferred the matching money be used “in our existing parks.” The matching funds would come from the balance in the parks and recreation sales tax funds.