A new multi-use trail that will connect several recreation areas in the city could be ready for use late this year.
Hays city manager Toby Dougherty outlined plans for the trail to the Hays USD 489 school board at its work study session Monday night. The trail will cross part of the Hays High School grounds. Dougherty told the school board the city was just seeking permission to cross the district property. There will be no cost to the district for the trail.
The 1.2 mile path will start near Hays Recreation Commission, 1105 Canterbury, follow 12th Street, then cross an area of grass and trees northeast toward the school’s main entrance at 13th Street.
From there, the path will follow 13th east, then cross to the USD 489 Early Childhood Center. The path will turn north just east of Cross Point Church into Kiwanis Park, cross E. 17th and follow the curves of Judith Drive north into Anthony Drive. Crossings at E. 21st and E. 22nd will take the trail to the Hays Medical Center walking trail.
The city will let the project out for bid this spring with construction beginning in the summer, Dougherty said. The city has budgeted $320,000 for the trail, he said Thursday, and would like to see a completion date in September or October.
It’s part of a planned series of trails that the city will install as it can afford to do so, said Dougherty and Hays Mayor Shaun Musil, who also attended the school board meeting.
“The city has made this a priority moving forward. We have connected a few different routes around the city. We would like to invest a little bit each year in multi-use paths and slowly try to grow the system and connect things like schools, recreational opportunities,” Dougherty said.
Musil said he likes that the path connects the high school to the HRC.
“As you know, many of these kids after school go to the rec, and it connects to the hospital for that beautiful path they have there,” he said.
Superintendent Ron Wilson said the 8-foot paved path will improve an area of the high school grounds that is otherwise “wasted territory,” he said.
“It’s a nice area. I do spend a lot of time walking that area. During that rainy time in August it was almost impossible to walk around that area. I look at this as a great opportunity to keep your feet dry,” he said.
Musil compared it to the path constructed on the Big Creek levee.
“There was always people up there, but you would get muddy. Now there’s people there all the time riding bikes, skateboards, you name it,” he said.
The path through the USD 489 property will include some pedestrian lighting, Dougherty said.
“It’d be different than street lighting. It could be smaller and more scalable, sort of localized to the path,” he said.
The city will not be placing any benches along the trail, but Dougherty said it’s possible a civic group or other organization could donate money to do so, as has been done on the levee.
“I think that would be nice for the students so they could go out there,” board member Sophia Rose Young said.
Crosswalks with flashing markers will be placed where the trail crosses major roads.
School board members were enthusiastic about the trail. Board president Mike Walker agreed connecting different parts of the community was a good idea.
“I think we do want to be good team players, good community members and support this plan. But I hope the city folks remember that when it comes time to ask for a bond that they realize we need help too sometimes,” Walker said.
“We hear you,” Musil responded.