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by Mark Cheffey
Palmyra Parks & Recreation is hoping to obtain grant funding for a major walking trail project that could revitalize a little used part of Flower City Park.
Parks Director Doug Meyers told the Palmyra City Council Thursday the department is seeking $250,000 in grant funding through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that would go a long way toward completing what is to be half-mile long multi-use trail looping round the western side of the park.
“I think we have a really good chance at it,” Meyers said, noting the application will include a sizable local match that includes major donation money as well as in-kind work, plus it will be American’s With Disabilities Act compliant.
“That’s a huge plus,” Meyers said, not only for the grant application but for the community.
If Palmyra is warded the grant, Meyers said work could move forward on the first phase of the project, which will cost $379,100 and include about half of the trail on the extreme west edge, stretching from the existing parking lot at the southwest corner of the park, to the northwest corner, where it will connect to the part’s nature trail system to the north.
Meyers told the council completion of the first phase would present a major plus toward raising the money to complete the trail, which would loop back around and connect up with the southwest parking lot.
Park commitment toward a walking trail came during the COVID-19 pandemic when a need for more outdoor activities was discussed.
“The single most popular outdoor recreation activity is walking outdoors, and the proposed trail will provide additional opportunities for this popular outdoor activity,” according to Meyers.
It also helped when a $103,407 donation was received from the Hutcherson family to be used for a project that would provide cardiovascular benefit.
That allowed the park board to work with an architect on a project design and cost estimate.
“With the land already owned by the city of Palmyra, the park overseen by the parks department, and the financial means to move forward, the project is more than shovel ready,” Meyers said.
The entire trail project will include constructing approximately 2,800 linear feet of multi-use trail consisting of nine-feet wide concrete pavement on an aggregate base.
This trail will connect with Meadow trail that connects with other trails developed and renovated in 2002-2004 in partnership with Marion County Health Department to promote walking in the park for physical fitness.
In additional two phases, an existing restroom will be replaced with a new restroom building and an existing picnic shelter, will be renovated and enlarged.
If funded, the city of Palmyra Parks and Recreation Department will hire an engineer to design the trail to be ADA compliant and to oversee construction.
Grant funds will be used to pay for material, design, construction and mobilization.
Based on current use of the nature trails in the park, it is estimated that the accessibility of the trail being proposed would see monthly usage of 425-500 people in year 2024 and beyond, based on the 250-300 individuals currently using the nature trails, according to the grant application.
Palmyra received the match funds in the form of a donation. In the summer of 2021 John Dudley Hutcherson, M.D. made a gift of over $100,000 to promote physical wellness and cardiovascular fitness.
Dr. John Hutcherson was a 1952 graduate of Palmyra. Dr. Hutcherson completed a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at the University of Colorado.
In 2020, Dr. Hutcherson M.D., FACC was recognized as a top cardiologist in Colorado.