Neosho to pursue grant for expanded bike trail

Joe Hadsall, The Joplin Globe, Mo.
·3 min read

Feb. 20—NEOSHO, Mo. — The Neosho City Council in a special session approved applying for a grant to fund a new phase of trail construction at the High Ground Bike Preserve in Morse Park.

The council approved a motion in a 3-0 vote to pursue about $160,000 in federal grants to expand the system by about 3.2 miles Plans call for the trail to connect to current trails at the park and run across Hickory Creek to the north and east.

"The city has property there that goes clear to the top of a hill," said Clint Dalbom, parks and recreation director. "It will have switchbacks and will also incorporate a bridge over the creek."

The Federal Recreational Trails Program block grant, which totals about $200,000, requires an 80-20 match from the city, Dalbom said. The $40,000 match is to come from the parks department's portion of the next fiscal year's budget, which begins on Oct. 1.

The city applied for the same grant last year but was rejected, Dalbom said. The federal grant is awarded through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The vote was held during a special morning meeting on Wednesday; council members Tom Workman and Tyler DeWitt were not present. The city canceled its regular meeting set for Tuesday because of inclement weather, but an application deadline for the grant necessitated the morning meeting, Dalbom said.

The bike trails and features at the High Ground Bike Preserve have been a popular new addition to the park. A grand opening for the trails was held in October, but they saw heavy usage before they were completed.

The preserve offers more than 8 miles of trails, as well as a skills loop and a bicycle playground. The trails and playground were part of a more than $265,000 project built by Rogue Trails, based out of Rogers, Arkansas. The skills loop was built by volunteers and donations from Rogue Trails and the Progressive Ramp Co., based in Joplin. In addition to parks department workers, volunteers with Bike Neosho are helping to maintain the trails.

The park's close proximity to the downtown area is hoped to be an economic boost for the city by attracting business owners targeting increased visitation from bicyclists across the region.

If the city is chosen for the grant, the money would be disbursed in December, Dalbom said, which is about two months after the department will have its match for the grant. If the city does not get the grant, Dalbom said the city will save the match and continue with the trail's construction when more funds are available.

The city already has the bridge it needs to cross Hickory Creek. A metal bridge equipped with a wooden walking surface is on loan to a nearby church, Dalbom said. The agreement with that church expires later this year.

Next meeting

The city will not reschedule the meeting that was canceled on Tuesday. The other agenda items from that meeting will be moved to the council's regular meeting on March 2, City Clerk Cheyenne Wright said.