The Lansing City Council heard from one of its department directors that the completion of a centerpiece trail project might come in at a good price — free.
The Lansing City Council heard from one of its department directors that the completion of a centerpiece trail project might come in at a good price — free. John Young, Lansing director of public works, asked the council Thursday for a consensus to allow Mayor Billy Blackwell to sign a completed grant application for the Kansas Department of Transportation. The grant, if approved, would give the city up to 80 percent of the estimated $381,679 needed to complete a trail around Angel Falls, a natural limestone waterfall on 7-Mile Creek on the city’s west side. Young said KDOT has about $8 million in Transportation Enhancement funds still available for local projects throughout the state that must be used by 2014. Part of the Angel Falls trail was put in by the developer of the Angel Falls Villas subdivision. Young said local Boy Scouts also laid a primitive trail on the southern end of the site, in easements donated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. When completed, Young said the trail would feature a 10-foot concrete path for pedestrians and bicycles and a bridge across 7-Mile Creek through undisturbed woodland. “We think this is really the highlight of the whole master trails plan,” he said. The TE grant would cover only 80 percent of the costs for the trail, but Young said KDOT told him there was another source to provide the rest — the Federal Fund Exchange, under which smaller Kansas communities can authorize KDOT to use accrued federal funds set aside for highway work for other state projects and KDOT pays the community 90 cents for every dollar, allowing more flexibility for the city in using those funds. Young estimated that the city would have accumulated $156,000 in federal funds by the end of 2013. While that amount wouldn’t make a dent in the costs for larger projects like improvements to DeSoto Road, Young said it could cover the local share of the Angel Falls Trail project. “That’s one of those magical things that people are always looking for,” he said, though the city might bear some costs for appraisals of the easements on the site. Mayor Billy Blackwell, along with other councilmembers, praised the project. “If we get this in, it really gives some enhancements to the schools over there,” he said. The application for the Federal Fund Exchange is due at the end of this month, Young said, with the TE grant application due in the middle of February. He did caution the council members that the KDOT grant meeting he recently attended was standing room only, speaking perhaps to the interest in the TE grants. “It will be very competitive,” he said. “I will tell you that this project has a lot going for it.” Though no formal action was taken at the work session, the council appeared to be in agreement to allow Blackwell to sign the Federal Fund Exchange application.