Walking Trail

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 19, 2008

City hopes grant will pave way for walking trail

By Jason C. Mattox

Walkers in the City of Batesville may soon have a new place to take an afternoon stroll or power walk.

Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey and the Board of Aldermen have been discussing a walking trail and community park at Trussell Park for months, and recently voted to apply for a $100,000 state grant through the Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks.

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The city would match 20 percent of the grant, and those funds are in the budget for the Parks Department, according to the mayor.

Residents of Batesville and Panola County have been without a controlled walking environment since the track at Tiger Stadium was closed.

“When they got the new turf put in, they didn’t want to take a chance on it being vandalized, so it has been closed,” Autrey said during an interview Thursday morning.

“Our grant writer Jimmy Gouras prepared the grant for us free of charge,” the mayor said. “He told me last year that he would do whatever he could to make sure we didn’t miss the submission deadline this year.”

Autrey said, much to his surprise, that public health is not a top priority for grant approvals.

“They are more concerned about leisure now,” he said. “We were told that we couldn’t just put in a walking trail, we have to have something for bike riders, roller bladders and people on scooters.”

Autrey said the grant will cover the installation of a one-mile walking trail, and more will be added in the coming years.

“We are going to have to do the track out of asphalt because of the bikes and scooters, and asphalt is going to be expensive,” he said. “But we will do whatever we can before the money runs out.”

The mayor said the city has met with civic organizations about letters of support to discuss them helping the landscaping, etc.

Autrey said Parks director Robert Lightsey has been busy getting estimates for playground equipment and workout equipment that would be located around the walking trail.

“We would like to have some playground equipment so the kids could play while the parents are walking, but we realize we are not going to be able to get this done all at one time,” he said.

Autrey said the project might eventually include a long-discussed skate park.

“I have met with representatives from the skate park, and they are getting us a letter of support,” he said.

“We have all the property out there that the city already owns, and we want to develop this into a place where people from all over the community would congregate,” he added.