The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

June 14, 2013

The path of least resistance

OTTUMWA — Please stop worrying: The yellow line on a map cutting through private property is not set in stone. In fact, the line will most likely look much different a year from now.

Trail planners at the local level met this week in Ottumwa with landowners to get their input and to assure them that the "plans" are more of a tentative idea.

"I know Ottumwa, Eldon and Fairfield want a trail system ... to connect, but how that happens, I don't know," said Brian Leaders, a National Park Service representative visiting Ottumwa recently.

Because three communities are working together to do something positive for residents and the environment, the U.S. Parks Service offered its services at no charge to the combined Gothic Regional Trails Council.

Hopeful trail builders like Kim Hellige of Ottumwa wanted to get an idea of where there would be landowners who were welcoming and where trail builders would not be welcome. That way, if necessary, the tentative plan could be rerouted. There are already homeowners on board, trail officials said, but not many of the attendees at the Ottumwa meeting appeared enthusiastic about the trail.

One meeting participant did not realize the plan was tentative and criticized trail builders for not having a "Plan B." One man said he wouldn't be the first to sign up — but he wasn't saying "no," either.

Another homeowner was more adamant. She said she felt that a trail would interfere with a farming way of life.

"You said you wanted us to be honest? We don't want it. You're asking too much ... Go somewhere else," said the woman.

But that's OK, said Leaders. There are going to be landowners who would love to support the idea of having a trail system near their home and others who are against having trails going through their property. One Eldon area resident was concerned criminals could hike the trail during the day, then come back at night and steal things from farms. And what about lawsuits, asked one man, concerned that if someone was injured on his property, he'd get sued.

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