City officials and representatives from the Kansas City engineering firm Olsson Associates presided Tuesday over the first of two public meetings set for this week regarding a pair of proposed pedestrian/bicycle paths that will eventually stretch from Beal Park to Northwest Missouri State University.
About a dozen residents attended the hour-long session, which addressed plans for a trail that will extend westward along East Seventh from North Davis, then north on Main to West Ninth and west again on Ninth Street to Walnut.
The entire trail will follow the north side of the affected streets except for the short north/south section along Main, which will stretch up the west curb and take advantage of a newly constructed sidewalk that will not be replaced.
If sufficient grant funding is available through the Missouri Department of Transportation's Transportation Enhancement Program, the eight-foot-wide path could be extended from North Walnut until it links up with an existing paved trail on the Northwest campus.
Most people at Tuesday's meeting own property along the projected Seventh Street/Ninth Street route, and several expressed concerns about the impact of construction, which will include tearing out existing sidewalks as well as removing a number of trees.
All construction activities, including re-seeding and possible reconnections to water and sewer mains, are to be paid for with project funds at no expense to homeowners. City Manager Greg McDanel said any removed trees will likely be replanted in order to maintain Maryville's Tree City USA designation through the Arbor Day Foundation.
While the trail itself is to be built over public rights-of-way, the work will affect numerous driveways and front yards.
Most of the driveways along the route will have to be at least partially repaved, and some will be outfitted with handicap-friendly ramps and warning strips. In addition, several steeply sloping front yards are slated for regrading, and some will require installation of retaining walls up to 30 inches high.
While several residents expressed reservations about tree removal and retaining wall drainage, others said they recognized that the project offers benefits, especially in what is already a high-traffic area for pedestrians, many of them students on the way to campus.
"I've got mixed feelings," said Stephanie Gaa, who owns a large house at 201 E. Seventh St. "We just want some say about what the front of our home looks like."
Gaa said she fears some of Seventh Street's tree-lined ambience will disappear when the trail is built, adding that two large trees standing in front of her home are among those that will probably have to be removed.
"I'm trying to be optimistic about it," she said. "We already have a lot of pedestrians, and I know my next-door neighbors are excited about it because they like to walk their dog."
Page 2 of 2 - Olsson's Jeffrey Thorn said engineers from the firm are available to meet with residents at their homes in order to discuss specific concerns and go over possible solutions. McDanel emphasized that the trail design is still preliminary, and that the city can make adjustments based on property owner input.
When completed, the .63-mile trail will connect to an existing north-south trail along Davis that runs past the St. Gregory Barbarigo Parish school. MoDOT is to provide up to $240,000 of the construction cost with the city responsible for a 30 percent match, estimated at a little more than $104,000.
The second meeting will take place at 6 p.m. tonight and is in connection with a proposed U-shaped trail in the Beal Park neighborhood running north and south beside Laura Street with east/west arms along East Seventh and East Fourth streets.
The East Seventh leg would connect with the Seventh/Ninth street trail.
Trail length is about eight-tenths of a mile and construction cost is estimated at $417,578 with a 40 percent city match of approximately $177,000.
If all goes as planned, construction of both hiking/biking paths could begin next year.