The Kenedy City Council took action at their Oct. 9, 2012 meeting to put funding in place to begin moving into the first phase.
Concept drawings displayed at that time showed a vision of a new recreational trail, more than a mile in length, designed to circle the banks of Escondido Creek from a trailhead adjacent to N. 5th Street where it crosses Escondido Creek to a connection point near the creek just north of Joe Gulley Park.
Three low water crossings, or weirs, are shown in the design to give those who use the trail a safe way to cross the creek at three different points. Preliminary plans showed the parkway extending under the U.S. Highway 181 bridge with trails on both sides of the creek.
A parking area and picnic area are shown adjacent to the creek just southwest of where the creek crosses N. 5th Street.
The city plans to fund the project through sales tax revenue received by the Kenedy 4B Corporation as well as other sources of revenue such as available grant funding. SARA is helping to provide administrative assistance and the city may contract with SARA for special services related to the completion of the project.
Mary Ann Cumley, a real estate representative of SARA, told the city council that acquisition of property needed for what she described as a “hike and bike” trail.
Some property owners have been difficult to locate, Cumley said.
“Parcel 6 – the Smiths parcel... we hired a private investigator to look for them and we could not find them,” Cumley said. “We checked with the tax assessor and there is about seven years worth of taxes owed on this property. They have filed a tax suit on them and we are hoping to get that by a sheriff’s deed.”
Several properties have been donated and others were purchased, Cumley said, although some properties have still not been acquired.
One property has been turned over to an eminent domain attorney, but every effort to avoid condemnation continues to be made, she said.
“With all that being said, we are anticipating having all the properties acquired by July 30,” Cumley said.
Kristen Hansen, the manager for the project, discussed Phase II of the project, and the proposed contract between SARA and the City of Kenedy needed to move into the next phase.
Phase II includes park planning and thirty percent design and cost estimation of hike and bike trails, signage, park amenities such as benches and picnic tables and off street parking at N. Fifth Street, Hansen said.
Matthew Driffill, who is also working with SARA on the project, told the council that there are many options to be considered before making specific decisions about the design of the parkway.
“We have a long way to go before deciding that,” Driffill said. “That will also determine the cost estimation for Phase II.”
“It sounds exciting,” Kenedy Mayor Randy Garza said.
SARA representatives said they hope to set public meetings in August to gather input from the public about what specifically residents want to see included in the project.
City Manager Ford Patton said the work on the agreement for Phase II should begin soon, and hopefully within a month or two work can begin on a draft of the agreement.
“The other thing I would add, is to encourage people to let their thoughts be known, regarding this project,” Patton said. “The river authority is going to set up the input meetings and we really need to hear from people.”
Councilman Bob Patton said he didn’t think that would be a problem.
“I’m sure they will get some opinions,” the councilman said.