After years of lying dormant, a plan to bring trails to Danville is being revamped.
The “Safe Route to Schools” project began in 1998, according to Jennifer Kirchner, director of the Danville- Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau, but little progress was made.
In 2007, a grant of $100,000 was awarded to Danville to fund Phase 1 of the project, but again the project lost momentum, as Kirchner put it.
The project is being revived by a sub-group of the 2013 Chamber of Commerce Leadership Boyle County class, in which Kirchner is a participant.
As participants in the class, Kirchner along with Ann Goodwin, Clay Albright and Mary Jane Hall are required to complete a one-year project that benefits the community.
“We found out the grant was supposed to expire in December,” said Goodwin, director of community impact at United Way.
Goodwin said efforts were made to extend the grant.
“We have six months, and then it’s gone,” she said.
As the name implies, the trails would offer a safe way for children to get to and from school, as well as exercise. But Kirchner said the trails also would increase tourism in Danville.
“You can become a ‘trails’ town, which is great for marketing,” Kirchner said. “It would bring in tons of events.”
Goodwin added it would give residents a variety of places to run, walk and bike, and would assist those without vehicles.
“I would love for (Danville) to be a community that is active,” Goodwin said, adding she sees people walking along Main Street early in the mornings on her way to work. “We can do better for our folks.”
Over time, Goodwin said the group hopes the project will become “contagious” and undergo tremendous expansion.
The trails would be paved, have lighting where needed, and be user friendly. Over time, the adding of native plants and benches would be a goal.
“A lot of the work has been done in terms of mapping,” Kirchner said.
The group’s main objective is promoting the project and working through some of the barriers to its kick-off.
The group presented its project to Danville City Commission on Monday night, asking for support from the public and commissioners.
The group’s letter to the commission states, “Although the support is apparent and widespread, there have been hurdles securing easements on property for Phase 1 of the project.”
Kirchner and Goodwin said part of the original design had the trail running through Kentucky School for the Deaf property, which went up for sale.
In order to release the grant money to start the trail construction, all property owners must sign agreements granting easements.
Kirchner said KSD is concerned about affecting salability if the trails are constructed through its property, but the two are “looking for a way to compromise.”
A new drafting of the trails map was conducted, which has the trail running along the edge of KSD property but not directly through it.
Kirchner said the Leadership Boyle County group and KSD had a “positive” meeting Tuesday to discuss the issue, and officials should have an answer from KSD next week.
Paula Fowler, director of the Chamber of Commerce, said Leadership Boyle County has been going on every other year since 1983. The groups decide on their own projects and learn about the community.
Fowler said she has faith the trails initiative will be successful.
“I think they gave a pretty good overview at the (City Commission) meeting the other night,” Fowler said.