Lamar Loop Gets Closer, Step by Step

Schematics of the Lamar Loop

Schematics of the Lamar Loop

“This project got started with an idea about three years ago,” stated Rick Akers, Director of Lamar Parks and Recreation. He was addressing a gathering of about 40 persons who attended a public briefing at the Cultural Events Center for a status report on the proposed nine mile walking trail.  When completed, it will provide Lamar residents and visitors with an opportunity for year-round outdoor exercise on a controlled path that winds its way through the city.

Mary Stewart of Alta Design

Mary Stewart of Alta Design

Design team representatives, Mary Stewart and Tom Natwick from Alta Planning from Denver, presented a display of the first phase of the two-year project, which could be completed in about a phase a year, according to Akers. Stewart estimated the cost of the first phase at $1M which was a cap on an expected grant to fund the project.  “We expect to finalize the plans by mid-September and put the proposal out to bid and if all goes well, the project could be underway by this fall,” explained Natwick.

Lamar Loop at Willow Creek Park

The Loop will incorporate existing roadways and sidewalks, as well as some new construction to provide a nine mile walking and biking path that will reach from the north side of Lamar to the southern reaches of the community. The topmost portion of the Loop would end at the Arkansas River and incorporate a portion of the new, North Gateway Park, using a refurbished trail which would take walkers under the Highway 50 bridge and out towards the west side greenbelt.  The path would continue southwards along the outer reaches of the city limits, towards the high school, fairgrounds and around Willow Creek Park.  The trail would follow eastward along the Creek near Walmart where users would cross Highway 50 and the BNSF rail line.  “That portion of the plan still has to be worked out with the railroad,” stated Stewart.  She said safety would be a prime concern for any riders or walkers, as bike paths would be specifically marked to alert riders, walkers and motorists.

The Loop will connect to five parks, five schools, Lamar Community College, three existing recreational facilities and three existing trails.  The Loop is designed to allow people to get on or off anywhere they choose in the city, whether they circumnavigate the entire nine miles, or just select to walk the Loop from one neighborhood to the next.

By Russ Baldwin

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