Organizers answered questions and concerns one at a time, saying, for example, there is a "Plan B," but it's hard to say there's really even a "plan A" yet, or that a law shields homeowners who are kind enough to open their land from being sued.
Other area residents provided information as sources who new the area best: There's an abandoned coal mine along the hypothetical trail, there's a place where the river is eroding the bank and there are places people use to hunt on their own land.
All of that is good information, said the National Parks Service representative. But even those who came to the meeting dead set against a trail in their backyard were helping the planners. By coming to the meeting and speaking up, the map can be re-examined to go along the path of least resistance.
He and Helige said no one would be forced to agree. There's no "eminent domain" law that requires people to allow a trail to go through land they own. And the people of the committee, said Hellige later, wouldn't use a law to force compliance anyway. They want participation from people who want to see the trail go from Ottumwa to Eldon to Fairfield.
— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark.