City Receives Grant to be Used for Walking Trail
By Bill Stewart
City of Huntington Administrator
The City of Huntington has received notification of approval regarding an application for funding that will be used to help build a walking trail at Centennial Park.
The Laura Jane Musser Fund Rural Initiative Program of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has agreed to donate to the City the sum of $25,000 to be used in conjunction with funds raised locally to begin construction of the trail. In addition to the local and grant dollars, many volunteers will be needed during the coming months to assist with planning, preparing the area, and constructing the trail.
The initial plan is to place the trail in the area of the park currently used for activities, such as the Catfish Festival, concerts, family reunions, parties, and other such events. The second phase of the park will be to expand the trail to the area between 2nd Street and the concession stand. Our goal is to raise enough in donations and grant funds to have a solid, non-dirt cover on the trail that will make it accessible all year long regardless of the weather, such as the great amount of rain we’ve recently received.
The entire Huntington community will be invited, welcomed, and even expected to be involved in the use of the trail. Not only will it be available for walking and jogging, but with the hard surface, individuals with ambulation problems, (those using canes, walkers, wheelchairs), will be able to enjoy being on the trail.
When completed, the walking trail would be available to several organizations and all individuals. The middle school and high school teams could use it for cross country meets if they choose. Teachers could also use the trail with and Centennial Park for outdoor learning experiences. People could also take advantage of the trail to walk or jog for health reasons, such as exercise and staying in good physical shape. Residents of the Huntington Healthcare & Rehabilitation facility could take advantage of the trail for health reasons, or just to be outside when the weather is conducive to hosting special activities and events.
There is already one rest area, referred to as a whistle stop, that has been built to be used by walkers and joggers who need to stop and rest or get out of the hot sun or rain. There is a plan to add at least one more, and possibly some open-air benches, that will be accessible to trail users.
The plan also calls for shrubs, bushes, and flowers to be planted along the trail. These plants will not only provide ground cover, they will also help to beautify the entire trail area. In addition to beautification, these plants can also be used as part of an outdoor classroom experience for science and horticulture classes.
We will need many volunteers, some equipment that people will let us “borrow” as they make use of the equipment, (such as a tractor with mower and box blade), and financial donations (checks made out to Centennial Park Walking Trail). Any age organization, youth athletic teams, scouts, church youth groups, civic organizations, etc., is invited to be a part of this project.
The Musser Fund only awarded 10 Rural Initiative grants last year nationwide. The average amount per grant was $14,745. We are very fortunate to have been selected as a recipient of these funds, especially at this amount.
If your organization is willing to help in any way with this project, or if you want to volunteer or donate as an individual, please notify City Hall, (936-422-4195). Please plan to pitch in and make this a true community project!