The Desloge Board of Aldermen heard a presentation by City Administrator Dan Bryan on the proposed construction of a fitness trail when it met in regular session Monday night at city hall.

Bryan provided board members an overview of the estimated $270,000 project, which will be largely paid for by an 80/20 Recreational Trails Program grant through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources that the city will be applying for at the end of this week.

"While the city's portion of the cost would be $57,000, only $30,000 will be a cash contribution and the other $27,000 will come through in-kind labor and use of our equipment here within the city," Bryan said. "When I went to the grant workshop last month, they indicated that if you make it past the first round of selections, we should hear something by May, I would think.

"If we get news earlier that we've been eliminated, then that's unfortunate — but I hope to hear that we make the initial cut and we're still in the running. If we get a phone call that someone wants to come down and take a look at what we want to do, then that's a real good sign."

Bryan explained that the plan is to put in a paved trailhead along the road that goes through City Park and join up by the tennis courts with the existing Walnut Trail.

"There will be a couple of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant parking spaces and access to just a little over a quarter-of-a-mile of new trail," he said. "At the trailhead itself we will have an outdoor drinking fountain. We're using recycled materials in this project, so we'll have a recycle bench there, too.

"We'll have a bike rack and all kinds of amenities along the opening there, along with lighting right there at the beginning of the trailhead. We're also going to have three exercise stations scattered throughout the trail. The thought is we're going to have approximately three pieces of outdoor fitness equipment at each station, so we're going to have a total of nine pieces of equipment. I think there's a total of four benches, six lights and a couple of trashcans along the way, so it's really going to be a beautiful addition to that park. It has been well received."

Bryan said the proposed project will also address stormwater issues in a nearby subdivision.

"Some of the folks in the Brim Street neighborhood get some pretty significant runoff from storm water when we have a big rain event," he said. "So, what we're going to do is incorporate a little bit of a stormwater project through there, as well. There will be a couple of inlets — one within the park and one will be within one of the property owner's backyard.

"We're going to have to obtain a water easement from one property owner in order to get the project to Brim Street and then connected to the existing stormwater there on Brim Street. That's a big factor, too. We can kind of improve some of those issues, as well, through this project."

Bryan said community response has been positive, with comments and suggestions being received by the city on its Facebook page, as well as others.

"We've got a letter of support from North County's athletic director," Bryan said. "He's expressed if we do get this trail, that the school district is going to implement it into their physical fitness curriculum for the school year. The middle school and high school cross country teams will be utilizing the fitness trail to enhance their training for those sports, as well.

"I got some feedback from a local healthcare professional, too. She expressed the health benefits that this fitness trail would have on Desloge residents and visitors alike. With it being ADA compliant, it spans across all ages, all abilities, so it would really be open for everyone to enjoy."

According to Bryan, the city has received a letter of support from State Rep. Mike Henderson expressing his support for this project.

"He really feels it will be a plus for the city, the park and the surrounding communities," Bryan said. "It is one of those things that you've really got to look at. It's going to be a one of a kind. The closest fitness trail to Desloge is in Farmington, but it's 11.5 miles away. Then, out at Terre Du Lac — a private community — they have outdoor fitness equipment, but it's not open to the public.

"This is really going to fill that void where there's public access and it's ADA compliant. For me the one plus is that it crosses all economic backgrounds. It will be free of charge for the public, so there's not that burden of a family or somebody having to pay for a gym membership. I think it's going to be a really nice addition."

During the mayor and aldermen reports, it was discussed that the Casey's General Store at 1100 N. Desloge Drive will be closing at the end of the month. While an official reason hasn't been given by the company, the board seemed to think it was due to the location and small size of the store compared to others in the area.

"I sure hate to hear that a long-time business like Casey's is closing in the city," said Alderman Chris Gremminger.

In other action, the board amended city personnel practices, approved a number of ordinances, OK'd the purchase of two furnace bids for the fire department, began its annual review of water rates and chose street lights for the Desloge Drive Project.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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