With vote Wednesday, Turkey Creek trail prospects grow dimmer in Mission

An abandoned road bed runs through part of the  proposed Turkey Creek Trail route in Mission.
An abandoned road bed runs through part of the proposed Turkey Creek Trail route in Mission.

The Turkey Creek Trail extension suffered yet another setback Wednesday night in Mission.

The Mission City Council voted unanimously Wednesday against committing matching funds for a design and preliminary engineering study of the trail.

The trail was envisioned as a 10-mile biking and pedestrian path that would link the southwest section of Merriam through several cities and all the way past the Rosedale Memorial Arch in Kansas City, Kan.

But it will have to go on without a stretch through Mission. Several council members have voiced support for the trail but said the location through the city was part of the problem. The council spent considerable time discussing the plan last month.

Former Roeland Park Mayor Steve Petrehn spoke in favor of the trail and pointed out that Mission agreed to a resolution supporting the trail several years ago.

“I really believe it’s key to the future of northeast Johnson County,” he said.

Instead of giving up on the plan, Petrehn urged the council to consider taking a cue from Roeland Park and asking a group of citizens with expertise in engineering, design and the like to study creative ways to make the trail a better fit for Mission.

Petrehn pointed out that Johnson County residents overwhelmingly support trails and walking paths in surveys.
“This is something cities have to make an investment in,” he said. “It’s a challenge and it’s a creative challenge and it’s a fun challenge that’s been thrown in front of you.”

However, Mission resident Frank Bruce spoke against trail location.

“I think trails are great. It’s a wonderful idea,” he said. “But I think the old saying is called location, location, location. I think where you place the trail is really paramount.”

Bruce said the Mission trail does not easily connect residential homes or businesses that would benefit from the commitment. The location might work in other cities but it doesn’t go far enough to connect homes and businesses to the recreational offering, he said.

Some council members originally supported the plan but couldn’t accept the location that had been mapped out. One council member said every member of the governing body had visited the site. The trail plan calls for it to run through Merriam and Overland Park from 75th Street to near the city limit with Mission at I-635.

Money for the $2.3 million project was expected to be included in the 2014 budget. A portion would have been funded with grants including $1 million in federal money, but the council gave up that grant in 2014 when it decided not to include design money in its budget.

Initial construction of the trail started in 1992. Merriam and Kansas City, Kan. have already completed those portions of the trail.