Work could pick back up next week on the first phase of an expansion project for a popular walking trail on the north end of town.
Robert Edmonds, public works director, said city crews could soon resume work to lengthen the 2.25-mile trail that wraps around Lions Club Municipal Golf Course, the Union County Fairgrounds, and the El Dorado School District soccer fields.
The northward extension will add just under a mile to the existing trail.
It will be the first phase of a project that will eventually affix another 2.5 miles that will head south along 19th to Champagnolle, east toward U.S. 167 and north to connect to the existing trail.
The shorter loop will also start on the northeast side of the trail and stretch toward the north wastewater treatment plant of the El Dorado Water Utilities before looping back south to tie into the existing trail on the northeast side of the Lion Club property.
“That short section is already grubbed out. I hope to get a couple of guys out there next week,” Edmonds said.
“There’s some drainage we’ve got to get in there. We’re going to raise a couple of spots up, and we’ve got some milling that we’re going to use for now,” he continued.
Labor and costs for the shorter extension will be handled in-house, Edmonds said, adding that the materials have already been purchased.
“With the exception of the drainage pipe, there isn’t going to be a whole lot of cost for this project,” he said.
The city is working with the Arkansas Department of Transportation to finalize a permit for the longer extension, which will encroach on the state’s right of way along U.S. 167.
If the state approves the permit, Edmonds said the city could move forward with the bidding process.
Phase two will be covered by a $500,000 grant that was awarded through the ARDoT Recreational Trails Program.
A grant from the same program was used to launch the original trail project in 2009.
Since the trail opened in 2012, it has become a popular recreation spot in town, attracting a slew of walkers, runners, and bike riders on a daily basis.
“Any time you go out there, that thing is always full,” Mayor Frank Hash told members of the El Dorado Parks and Playgrounds Commission earlier this week.
Commissioner Alexis Alexander inquired about restrooms on the north side of the Lions Club golf course.
“With the expansion of the walking track, it would be a benefit to have that facility working,” Alexander pointed out.
Danny Carelock, interim manager of the golf course, agreed, saying, “It would be a benefit to golfers and walkers.”
Hash said then that the city is looking at ways to extend a water line to one of the restrooms — a project that Hash described as a “logistical nightmare.”
“We’ve got freezing concerns in the winter,” he said.
Edmonds said the restroom facility does not have potable water, explaining that the commodes operate off the recycled-water irrigation system that is used for the golf course, soccer fields and the El Dorado Golf and Country Club.
The system uses what is commonly called gray water, which comes from washing machines, sinks, dishwashers, showers, etc.
Edmonds said the department of public works is exploring options for freeze-proof implements for the restroom.
“We know that stuff is out there, but we’ve got to look into it and see if it’s something we can afford to do,” he said.
Both facilities also need electrical power, Edmonds said.
“The first one is not going to be that big of a problem, but the second one is so far away. We want to get power to the first one so that we can get some heat in it,” Edmonds said. “We’re hoping that we’ll be able to continue on and get water down to the second one and stick a conduit in a ground so we can get some electricity out there.”
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.