Mission agrees to apply for Turkey Creek Trail design grant on split council vote

The trail is complete through Merriam, including this section near the Merriam Marketplace.
The walking and biking trail is complete through Merriam, and generally follows the streamway into Overland Park.

Mission will apply for a grant to fund design work on the city’s section of Turkey Creek Trail that would run across the northwest corner of the city. It appears likely that the Mission section of the trail will be a gap in the 10-mile corridor that will run from south Merriam through Overland Park and then through Kansas City, Kan., into Kansas City, Mo. for some years to come.

The Merriam portion is complete and Overland Park has completed its sections with the exception of the last few yards that would connect to Mission. Construction is under way in KCK that would make the connection to the state line.

When the KCK construction is completed, the only section that will be missing is the approximately one mile that crosses through Mission. The city returned a $1 million grant for construction last year and the council declined to apply for the construction grant this year because of concerns about the local match.

The city council this week approved applying for a much smaller design grant of $130,000 with a city match of 30 percent or $39,000. If the application is successful, that would bring $91,000 in federal money to the project. Mission Community Development Director Martin Rivarola told the council that the design work, including geotechnical and survey work, would result in a more accurate construction estimate and a route for the trail. Right now, Rivarola said, “we pretty much have a line on a map.” In 2017 dollars, the trail could cost up to $2 million, he said, but those “are rough numbers because it hasn’t been designed yet.”

The council approved the application with two councilors, Amy Miller and Arcie Rothrock, in opposition. The vote followed a lengthy discussion over the trail as an amenity. Miller said she had received an email from a resident saying the trail was a lifestyle amenity. Not everybody in the city has that lifestyle to ride their bike along a trail, she said. “I can’t justify spending money on a lifestyle amenity that every resident and business owner can’t benefit from.” Miller said she preferred to spend the money on upgrading the city’s current parks.

Councilor Pat Quinn responded that not every resident uses the swimming pool, but it is a “great amenity” and “I can’t imagine the city without the pool.” Quinn said he would not be in favor of building the trail in the next couple of years, but the city is going to need the information from the design study at some point.

“This is really a quality of life issue,” said Councilor Steven Lucas, who has been a strong supporter of the trail. “We have young families moving here who want to walk an bike,” Debbie Kring added.

Rivarola said 2,500 apartment units are within a quarter mile of the current route. The route does face some hurdles, he said, including getting under I-35 and a steep grade in one section. Responding to council questions, he said the design could look at other options that might be less expensive to build.