Saturday, September 10, 2011

Are Trails a Part of Your City's Master Plan?

If you are reading this blog, chances are you're a fan of trails.  If you want your city to build more trails, you better make sure they are a part of the parks, transportation, or planning departments' Master Plans.  Communities often spend a lot of time developing these plans and decisions on funding and spending are typically based on the priorities spelled out in them.

If your municipality has a master plan than focuses entirely on building more baseball fields, then you might want to attend planning meetings and public comment periods in order to get trail planning and creation included.  Since dirt paths are pretty cheap and easy to make and maintain, there shouldn't be much resistance to at least including some nature trails in the plan.  Well-lit, paved trails are much more expensive, but they are still cheaper than roads and can often be funded largely using grants from federal and other sources.

If your town doesn't have an official plan, they should make one!  You should look over the ones included below and encourage them to use the best ones as a model. Many cities around the country have passed Complete Streets ordinances. These call for streets (and transportation dollars) to be used for the benefit of all modes of transportation. This means giving pedestrians, bicyclists, and bus riders the same priority as cars and in practice it often means wider sidewalks, protected bikelanes, lower speed limits, safer intersections, and more trails. Ask your local elected officials if your town has a complete streets ordinance.

Below are links to Master Plans for municipalities around the state.  If you know of one I've missed, send me a link and I'll add it:

Fayetteville:  ParksPlanning
Little Rock: Parks,  Planning
North Little Rock: No Parks, Planning

Bentonville: Parks, Planning
Bryant: Parks, Planning (These links need to be updated.  Here is a Transportation Plan Map with trails.)
Conway:  No Parks, Planning
Ft. Smith:  Parks, Planning
Hot Springs: Parks, Planning
Springdale: Parks, Planning
Eureka Springs: Trails

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