By Patrick Yost
Madison City Planner Monica Callahan revealed an ambitious walking trail program Monday night at the Morgan County Board of Education meeting.
The proposed plan, which will need easement and cooperation from the board, would create a more than 1.5-mile trail that would run through wooded areas near streams from the Morgan County Elementary School to Bethany Road.
The Horse Branch Trail East, which has been conceived by the city of Madison’s Greenspace Commission’s Trails Committee composed of David Land, Karl Scott and Candace Carlson, would also be connected to shorter trails that would spread from East Washington Street to the proposed Wellbridge Community near the bypass.
“This is a unique moment in time,” Callahan told the board. She said the city was currently working with three landowners; the Board of Education, Veranda Park owner Mike Conrads and Wellbridge owner Kelly Mahoney for easements and donated property to make the trails a reality. Callahan said Mahoney had also promised the city a 25-acre area that abuts Board of Education property and has given the city an easement through more property. Wellbridge, she said, wants to create a half-mile trail that would connect with the city’s proposed trail system. The city’s Greenspace Commission is seeking 35-foot easements from all entities involved.
Mahoney, as part of an earlier agreement with the city, has also pledged two miles of grading for the trail.
“We could be looking at piecing together 50 acres of green space for our community,” Callahan said.
The trail system, which would include a prefabricated bridge over Horse Branch, would be composed of both paved and soft surfaces for walkers and runners. The trail system would be closed at dark as are all Madison parks, said Callahan.
Callahan told the board that the trail system would enhance the community. “Madison is a great place to live,” she said, “however, we are behind on trail systems. I believe this has an economic value to our community.”
Callahan said if the Greenspace Commission can reach agreements with the three property owners, construction of the trail could begin as early as August. If completed, she said, the Horse Branch East trail system could eventually become part of a collection of five miles of both public and private trails within the city limits.