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Sun, May 26

New Miller Creek trail will provide crucial Greenways link

Cindy Barks/The Daily Courier<br>
Eric Smith, special project administrator for the City of Prescott’s Recreation Services Department, shows the route that a new Greenways Trail will take along Miller Creek, behind the fast food restaurants on Miller Valley Road.

Cindy Barks/The Daily Courier<br> Eric Smith, special project administrator for the City of Prescott’s Recreation Services Department, shows the route that a new Greenways Trail will take along Miller Creek, behind the fast food restaurants on Miller Valley Road.

PRESCOTT, Arizona - Within the year, a shady new route will be available for walkers and cyclists traveling between downtown Prescott and the World's Oldest Rodeo Grounds.

A project that has been in the making for more than a decade got a major boost in late June, when the Prescott City Council accepted eight donations relating to the Greenways Trail along Miller Creek.

The agreements, which include everything from the outright donation of land to license agreements to trail-easement donations, will allow the city to complete about a mile of new recreational trail between Lincoln Avenue and the rodeo grounds off of Gail Gardner Way.

That, in turn, will complete the long-anticipated link between the downtown area, where Greenway Trails already exist, to a network of trails in the Rodeo Drive/Gail Gardner area.

Eric Smith, special projects administrator for the city, worked on the Miller Creek trail connection for years in the early 2000s, when the city acquired several of the necessary easements.

But then in about 2008, he said efforts shifted to other trail projects, and the Miller Creek portion was placed on the back burner.

"Nobody was really working on it," Smith said this week, as he walked along the narrow, informal path that currently exists behind the fast food restaurants on Miller Valley Road.

A recent renewed push by the city's recreation services department succeeded in acquiring the needed access.

Among the donations were easements from: Charles and Alice Kring; Carl's Jr. Restaurant, LLC; Yavapai County; and Prescott College. In addition, the effort acquired license agreements with WTBP, LLC; Elk Investment Properties, LLC; and BEC Landholdings, LLC. It also acquired a fee-simple land donation from Miller Valley Realty, LLC (Ted Lamb).

Prescott City Council members commended the property owners on the donations, and unanimously approved the agreements on June 24.

Smith said the trail would provide a crucial link for the Greenways project, which already runs along Granite Creek, through Granite Creek Park and the Prescott Mile High Middle School property.

While the Miller Creek section currently attracts homeless activity, as well as illegal trash dumping, Smith said the city hopes that increased recreation, coupled with more park patrols in the area, will discourage that activity.

George Sheats of the Over the Hill Gang said the volunteer trail-building group has already started work on the portion of the trail near the rodeo grounds.

And earlier, Sheats said, "We built what was called a 'goat trail'" along Miller Creek. That narrow trail allowed the group to determine the routing and also provided informal access along the section.

The Over the Hill Gang plans to go back into the area soon to expand the Miller Creek trail to a six-foot-wide section, making it safer and more user-friendly for pedestrians and cyclists.

Smith said the goal is to make the trail wide enough to allow two bicycles to pass.

Sheats noted that while the Greenways Trails serve as recreational routes, they also have a transportation element. "They get people from point A to point B," he said.

Along with the Over the Hill Gang volunteers, Sheats said the county's juvenile probation workers and the city's community service workers likely would help with the trail. Already, he said juvenile workers have removed tons of trash and brush from the area.

In addition, he said, the CareScape landscaping company has committed to helping with major tree removal and steep-slope work.

A grant that the Yavapai Trails Association recently received will help with other costs, Smith said.

Sheats said the Miller Creek trail work likely would take about a year to complete. "It should be ready by next year's rodeo," he said.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks.

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