Trail plan raises concerns among Lake Shore Drive residents

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Some Wichita Falls residents are upset because they think the town’s Circle Trail is going to run through their backyards along Wichita Lake. About 40 owners live in the area that would be affected.

“In some cases, it comes within 10 or 15 feet of their back porch,” said Rodney Brown, owner of Larry’s Marina on Lake Shore Drive. He said his property would be affected by the trail.

“We’re trying to move the trail from their property to Lake Shore Drive,” Brown said. “It goes through the back of my property where all my 80-something-year-old boats are parked with no security whatsoever.”

Pat Hoffman, the city’s property management administrator, said this section of the trail has not yet been funded or designed, so it’s impossible to know the exact route.

“The city’s intent is to put it as close to the lake as possible, not as close to someone’s backdoor as possible,” she said.

Hoffman said some maps may show a meandering trail on city-owned property in the area, but that’s not necessarily the actual route.

Brown said homeowners would be limited in where they could build fencing between their property and the trail.

“We are not allowed to build a privacy fence or anything on city property. We need to build a fence on our property, which would theoretically be 10 feet from their back porch. This is very, very unfortunate for the citizens of Lake Shore Drive, he said. “There are a lot of citizens in Wichita Falls, I don’t think they would particularly care about a bike lane in their backyard.”

Brown called a meeting of concerned citizens at his property for 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss the matter.

“We’re going to have to convince the citizens of Wichita Falls to support us,” he said.

Carla Schmehl does not live on Lakeshore Drive but promotes the cause and the encounter due to her experience with the city.

“It bothered me so much because I own property on lower Taft, and with the Taft expansion project, I know how the city has treated me with my property. I just have a stomach ache for these people. My heart aches for these people,” she said. “I can’t imagine how angry and heartbroken I’d be to live for 50 years on the shore of the lake and then, like – ‘Oh, by the way, the city owns the shore of the lake, so we’re going to put that bike path in your garden. ‘”

Schmehl said she’s spoken to bike enthusiasts and understands why they want a better route on this part of the lake.

“They go on Lake Shore Drive and they hate it because the city doesn’t maintain that road,” she said.

Cyclists currently use Lake Shore Drive when navigating Lake Shore Drive.  The roadway has no shoulder and in some places trees and vegetation grow right up to the sidewalk.  An extension of the city's circular path would redirect them.

City Public Works Director Russell Schreiber said the city maintains Lake Shore Drive like all other streets with available funding. He also said trail construction in the area was not imminent and construction grants had not yet been secured.

The city’s trail plan also caught the attention of a group of veterans earlier this summer when members of the American Legion Post 169 complained that another section of the trail would cut off exclusive access to the lake which the position has enjoyed for over 60 years.

Continued:City: Welcome to the group of veterinarians on the shores of the city-owned lake

Continued:Legion Post will not challenge city trail maps

Continued:Veterans group laments Circle Trail expansion project

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