HARRISON – A special Harrison project was officially completed Monday, May 2 with the ribbon-cutting ceremony which marked the completion of the Phelps Nature Trail and honored its namesake, retired Department of Public Works Superintendent Steve Phelps.
The plans for the proposed nature trail began in 2017, with grant funding coming through in 2018. Three years later, the trail became a reality, however the ribbon-cutting was delayed due to wait times on some trail elements. That delay has not prevented residents from getting out and enjoying the health-giving benefits of walking and biking in the great outdoors.
Prior to the ribbon cutting, retiring Harrison City Manager Tracey Connelly said the trail was a way to pay tribute to an amazing individual who had spent 35 years serving the City of Harrison.
“Steve has dedicated his life to taking care of his family, his community,” Connelly said. “And there is no one who has done more for the City of Harrison in the past 40-plus years. No matter how big the crowd, it is a person like Steve always stands out. It is with genuine gratitude and warm regards that we dedicate the Phelps Nature Trail to Mr. Steve Phelps. ON behalf of myself, the City Council and the entire City of Harrison, we’d like to say Thank You, Steve, for everything you’ve done for our community.”
With that, Council members and DPW staff joined Phelps as he and the huge pair of ceremonial scissors made short work of the big red ribbon tied across the trail underneath the sign bearing his name.
Phelps offered his own words on the trail named in his honor, beginning by thanking his wife and family for always standing behind him, even though he couldn’t always be present for family events.
“It’s an honor for this to happen,” he said. “I’d like to remind everybody that the City of Harrison is a great place to live and be, and there are great people here. Things like this and other things that happened over the years I was here, I’ve seen a lot of changes. It couldn’t have happened without people like your Council people that stand behind the city employees. They’re the backbone of a lot of what happens here, and they do it, not for the money, but for the love of the community – as I do. Thank you.”
The trail offers: 1.6 miles of paved walkable path and bike ramps, and also includes an exercise kiosk, as well as a bicycle repair station – all aimed to promote the community’s physical and mental health through outdoor exercise. It is comprised of the Parking Lot Loop of 230 feet; Main Loop of 3,040 feet; Woods Trail of 2,874 feet; and Ski Trail of 2,294 feet.
There has been some tweaking and shaving of the plan, but the finished result is close to the original concept, and is still going to be a fine venue for health mind ed individuals and families – starting just a stone’s throw from the park and offering varied distances to match varied needs. And what better time to get out and breath some of nature’s finest than late spring when wildflowers, birds and insects are beginning to sing their encouraging beauty and songs?
The trail which begins near the ballfields on the south side of Harrison City Park, continues through the woods and around behind the high school/middle school complex where it will connect to the Safe Routes to School paths that were completed in 2017. It is hoped to eventually connect with Hayes Township, again a project which would be funded via grant(s).
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