Trail improvements are coming to Iola.
Iola City Council members agreed to a request from Thrive Allen County to expand the Southwind Trail along the Riverside Park levees, creating a loop around the park.
The trail already follows along the old Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad on the east side of the park, where it ties into the Prairie Spirit Rail Trail to the north and extends to Humboldt to the south.
The levees will remain as grass and not have a gravel screen surface like the rest of the trail. City Administrator Sid Fleming said the best alternative would be for city crews simply to mow the grass atop the levee much shorter. Ideally, increased usage by both bicycle and foot traffic will further wear down the grass.
Fleming has reached out to Lawrence’s trail overseer Bryce Campbell, and is confident he can find others willing to provide the necessary materials to “dress up” where the levies tie into the Southwind Trail, and to add signage.
Fleming also has worked out a logistical plan for city crews to construct the trail, although any work would have to wait until the weather dries.
“Construction of the trail and future maintenance is manageable with our current employee resources,” he said.
Assistant City Administrator Corey Schinstock noted the levees already are inspected each year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of their flood protection design.
“They’re already pretty smooth,” Schinstock said. “There may be a few dips we need to tackle.”
The trail loop was approved, 5-0. Beverly Franklin were absent, and Austin Sigg’s seat remains vacant after he resigned earlier this month.
IN A related matter, Allen Community College and Talk, Read Play Allen County have requested permission to add several enhancements to Elm Creek Park and the Prairie Spirit and the Missouri Pacific trails.
As detailed in Monday’s Register, the Talk, Read Play campaign encourages greater interaction with parents and toddlers. One of those tools will be to add attractions to Elm Creek Park, such as play kitchen areas next to park benches.
“Anywhere you have park benches, you can create more opportunities to pause and play,” noted Beth Toland, early education specialist at ACC.
The amenities are not expensive, Toland noted.
THOSE SEEKING to fill Sigg’s seat on the Council should contact City Hall, 365-4900, by 5 p.m. Friday.
The replacement must be appointed by Mayor Joel Wicoff and is subject to approval by the remaining Council members.