Kyle seeks grant for proposed hiking trail

A proposed hiking and biking trail that spans the entire city of Kyle could finally be coming to fruition.

On Feb 5, Kyle Parks and Recreations Director Kerry Urbanowicz said staff submitted an application with the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) for a reimbursement grant to start on the Plum Creek Trail.

The project, which has been talked about for nearly two decades, would extend from Highway 21 near Uhland to areas near the Six Creeks subdivision in the far western reaches of city.

Urbanowicz said the entire trail would be about a 10-mile drive or a “good day-and-a-half, if you’re going to walk it.”

The grant application, which was formally submitted before a Feb. 1 deadline, calls for construction on a section of the Plum Creek Trail that could connect the Spring Branch, Silverado and Brooks Crossing subdivisions. That section of the trail has a $450,000 price tag due to work on a creek crossing in the Spring Branch subdivision.

However, Kyle’s cost could go down if the city is approved for the grant. Urbanowicz said projects submitted to the TPW must have a total cost of more than $240,000. Submitted applications are then scored based on a variety of criterion by TPW officials.

Projects approved for the grant are reimbursed up to $200,000 once the project is completed; should Kyle receive the grant, it could cut the net cost of the project to $250,000.

However, Kyle won’t know if it is approved for the funds for another six to eight months.

If Kyle’s project is scored high enough to be considered, TPW officials would then work with the city’s engineering firm to come up with an agreement for city leaders to approve. Urbanowicz said that might not happen until spring or summer 2020.

From there, officials would work on construction documents, which could take an additional six to eight months to complete. Urbanowicz said construction on the section in Spring Branch and Silverado might not start until mid-2021, with the project finishing in the fall or winter 2022.

While TPW allows for approved projects to get a year’s extention due to weather delays, Kyle would have to complete its project within two years of receiving the grant. Reimbursement of the $200,000 might not be allocated until 2023.

“We don’t need the funds this year or in 2020, but we will need the funds for (fiscal year) 2021,” Urbanowicz said.

Kyle’s proposed trail project is a key part of its 2016 Parks Master Plan, which featured a goal of having all residents to be within a half-mile of a park or trail.

Urbanowicz said one of the top comments in the 2016 Parks plan is the desire for trails along Plum Creek. In addition, 85 percent of those who responded to surveys for the grant wanted to see more parks and trails, with 78 percent of respondents advocating for trails as an alternate means of transportation.

The Plum Creek trail could include an 8-foot-wide concrete sidewalk with a five feet of natural surface on each side of it.

“If you want to ride your bike or push your stroller or scooter, you’ll have that as well,” Urbanowicz said.

If Kyle is approved for the grant, Urbanowicz said roughly 10,000 Kyle residents could be within a 10-minute walk to a park or trail.

“That’s a big score, if you’re looking at scoring grants,” Urbanowicz said.

Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said one of the ways the city is trying to improve quality of life is expanding its trail network. That includes being involved in discussions on the proposed Emerald Crown Trail, which is proposed to run from Austin’s Violet Crown Trail, through Buda and Kyle, to the San Marcos area.

“It seems like a good use of our money to partner with Texas Parks and Wildlife,” Mitchell said.

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