The Commerce Journal

March 30, 2012

Hike and Bike Trail a bad idea

Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — To the editor:

I had sent you a letter to the editor a while back that you had stated it was not needed in your area. Now it is.

Funding has been approved for a 12-Mile Hike and Bike Trail by TPWD — National Recreational Trail Fund for a private not-for-profit group to construct it along the old Chaparral RR. It is to start on the east side of Fannin County line that adjoins Delta County. From there it will go west through the city of Ladonia, then dips down into Hunt County above Commerce area for a short distance, then continues back up into Fannin County and will come down into Hunt County just east of Hwy. 34.

The application for this has been approved based on a letter from Representative Dan Flynn’s Greenville office. The application for sponsorship was a letter from the Fannin County judge (the four Commissioners supposedly knew nothing of the letter). It was also sponsored by the City of Ladonia and the City of Roxton. (Last time I checked Roxton does not fall within this funded trail as it’s a city within Lamar County). Hunt County, that it also falls within, had no noted sponsors in this application.

I see no public/citizens meetings for information or input. The landowner and citizens were left in the dark as they were 15 years ago when TXDOT and TPWD attempted to do this same thing. The few entities/elected officials are making major decisions they want and not wanted by the citizens/taxpayers and especially the adjacent landowners to this project.

This practice is not acceptable behavior when it comes to spending our federal/state highway gas money to build these type things without public knowledge. This practice must end. Even though this project has been approved for funding by TPWD — National Recreation Trail Fund, it can be stopped. The political subdivision (County Commissioners Court) in which it falls can pass a Resolution of Opposition to Funding. This action will stop the project as per their application. The Resolution has (to) be made prior to the start of construction (God willing with these great rains, it will delay such action). But you must act now. This is not a joke! Contact everybody and let them know what is in the works now! This is not a done deal until construction starts.

On Monday, March 19, 2012, an urgent fax was sent to Carter Smith, Executive Director of TPWD (Austin, Texas), requesting a 60-day moratorium on funding and construction for Hunt County so the opposition can voice their concerns.  Copies of the fax were sent to Representative Dan Flynn and Senator Bob Duell in Greenville, Texas.

I have called the office (3-22-2012) and have not received a reply from Carter Smith. This action will also give us time to sort out the status of the applications.

We are in the process of notifying all adjacent property owners in these areas of the pending trail area and are awaiting feedback.

If you are concerned about this and want additional information, there will be a meeting at 7 p.m. on March 26, at the Kingston Baptist Church (intersection of Hwy. 69 and FM 3427 — three miles south of Celeste). We have a petition of opposition to the project and we need the support of all the precincts.

Mike Lewis

Adjacent Landowner

Hunt County