Completion of Wichita Falls Circle Trail awaits TxDOT funding
Funds that will only be given toward finishing the trail as long as plans continue along Lake Wichita
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - There has been much debate in the past couple of weeks over the completion of the Wichita Falls Circle Trail between residents who say it will destroy their lakefront views, to Wichita Falls city officials who say where those properties stop, the city’s land begins.
Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said the completion of the Circle Trail is at a standstill right now since its is funded in phases, and it’s not as simple as some may think.
“Yes, we’ve expended funds for the current trail system but we apply yearly for these grants at TxDOT, we haven’t applied for the grant money to receive it to spend it yet, so I actually heard that and I don’t know where it came from,” said Santellana.
TxDOT funds that Santellana said will only be given toward finishing the trail as long as it stays the course. Which means continuing through the backyards of those who work and live along Lake Wichita.
“TxDOT sets a pile of money away for municipalities, these transportation type grants to get pedestrians off highway systems and put them on trail systems,” said Santellana.
He said during Tuesday’s Wichita Falls City Council meeting it was the first time he had heard of anyone being against connecting the missing piece of the trail.
“Right now, we have three city councilors that want to put it on the agenda for a talking point. Before we even have any money, it’s hard to press forward. There’s nothing to vote on, we want to talk to the cycling group people that live in the neighborhood, we want to make sure we get the city of Wichita Falls,” said Santellana.
David Coleman, who gets his bike out on trail almost everyday, said to him finishing the Circle Trail means more safety.
“To sperate the cars from the cyclists and the joggers, the dog walkers so that you don’t have the potential for someone to get seriously hurt that’s, the beauty of this whole path,” said Coleman.
However he does empathize with those who will be impacted by it the most.
“Once I realized that all those people were there to talk about the Circle Trail, I stayed to hear what they had to say. It’s a very difficult situation, they don’t want change,” said Coleman.
“It’s tough for a homeowner to speak on behalf of all Wichita Falls in regards to something that we want to place on city owned land. It’s tough for me to where one hat or the other,” said Santellana.
Santellana said he is even open to taking meetings about the Circle Trail, but so far, no one has contacted him. If it does become a talking point, it won’t be until sometime in October; city officials plans to apply for the TxDOT grant in the next few months.
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