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Plans for big city project move forward

Located just off U.S. 67 at the intersection of Fairgrounds and East Woodlawn drives, almost directly behind Hefner Furniture & Appliance store, is a wooded area that will soon begin to change somewhat dramatically, as the long-anticipated project to extend Fairgrounds Drive and install recreational trail heads into St. Joe State Park finally begins.

The extension of Fairgrounds Drive will lead directly to a new parking lot, which will be connected to a new set of two trail heads that will take hikers, bikers and off-road-vehicle (ORV) enthusiasts onto the existing trails inside the boundaries of St. Joe State Park — providing instant access to the park’s secluded woodland trails.

Park Hills city officials have been making plans for the two related projects for a number of years, with much of the funding already obtained from grant programs, including $150,000 to construct the ORV trail head from the Recreational Trails Program and other grant monies from the Missouri Transportation Finance Commission.

The project will begin with the extension of Fairgrounds Drive and the installation of needed utility services up to the new trailheads section.

“We got the bids in,” said Mayor Daniel Naucke, “and they were a lot less than what we figured on and budgeted for — under $300,000. So the project will be done all with the construction contractor. We will not have to use any city employees for anything.”

Naucke said the city council voted to award the project to CE Contracting, Inc. which is based in Ste. Genevieve, and a date for a groundbreaking ceremony will be announced soon.

“We’re shooting for mid-June to start moving the trees and the dirt and start moving into the park,” he said. “Water and sewer will be put in as we go.”

In addition to the extension of Fairgrounds Drive and the trail sections themselves, plans include a parking area for visitors in a section that will allow for the installation of expanded parking if the trail heads prove as popular as anticipated.

The new trail heads will provide park visitors, especially hiking, biking and ORV enthusiasts, with another option for enjoying the extensive trails available at St. Joe. Located just off a major highway, the finished project is expected to become a popular entrance into the state park, which receives between 600,000 to more than 800,000 visitors every year.

According to a study conducted by Growth Services Group (GSG) last year for the City of Park Hills, about 60 percent of those visitors ride ATV/ORVs and prefer to use the woodland trails over the sand flats (60 percent to 40 percent, respectively). With instant access to their favored trails, located less than a minute off the highway, the option is likely to become first choice for many park visitors.

Plans to build a hotel near the new trail heads are also in the works. A feasibility study commissioned by city officials last year (conducted by GSG) revealed promising results for further economic development in the direct vicinity of the trail heads. In addition to other visitors to the Parkland, about 15 percent of St. Joe State Park’s overnight visitors choose to find accommodations outside of the park. 

Park Hills city officials expect to begin breaking ground in mid-June on the project to extend Fairgrounds Drive. The extension will lead to two new trail heads into St. Joe State Park, which will be constructed as the second part of the overall project. 

Park Hills city officials expect to begin breaking ground in mid-June on the project to extend Fairgrounds Drive. The extension will lead to two new trail heads into St. Joe State Park, which will be constructed as the second part of the overall project. 

Plans to extend Fairgrounds Drive and install two new trail heads into St. Joe State Park are moving ahead. In addition to extending Fairgrounds Drive at E. Woodlawn Drive, Park Hills officials have been planning to install a hiking and biking trail head and one for off-road vehicles into St. Joe State Park. 

Plans to extend Fairgrounds Drive and install two new trail heads into St. Joe State Park are moving ahead. In addition to extending Fairgrounds Drive at E. Woodlawn Drive, Park Hills officials have been planning to install a hiking and biking trail head and one for off-road vehicles into St. Joe State Park. 

Amy Patterson is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3616 or apatterson@dailyjournalonline.com.

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