Arcadia Lake Trails

Bicycle RiderThe serene and peaceful Deep
Fork River flows east from northern Oklahoma to Lake Eufala in eastern
Oklahoma. On its way, it fills Edmond’s Arcadia Lake, the pride and joy of
Edmond’s Parks and Recreation service.

Covering nearly 2,000 acres,
Arcadia Lake is a great place for area residents to camp, swim, water ski,
hike, ride horses and simply enjoy the great outdoors. Building on the lake’s
success as a recreation hub, the city is adding to its recreational offerings
with new bike and walking trails, giving locals yet another way to enjoy Lake
Arcadia. But this isn’t just a city project. It’s backed and funded by a group
of local business and individuals, the Arcadia Lake Trail Coalition.

“My family has always loved
walking. Edmond is a delightful community that, in my estimation, lends itself
to walking. The importance of physical activity has become more obvious
nationwide and its importance is reflected in Edmond’s trail planning,” says Elizabeth
Waner, a member of Edmond’s City Council and a key architect of the trails
plan. But Waner and her colleagues aren’t just interested in physical
fitness—trails for cycling and walking simply make Edmond a more enjoyable
place to live.

The Arcadia Lake trail is
projected to be completed in 2014. The 18-mile paved trail around the lake will
give walkers, joggers and cyclists the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty
of the area while preserving the native habitat and vegetation. Upon
completion, the trail will serve the Oklahoma City metro’s need as the longest
and widest trail available to recreational users. Varying from 12 to 18 feet
wide, it will meet the needs of cyclists, runners and walkers more easily than
any other multi-use trail in the metro area. Many trail users feel that
existing paths are too narrow to support both foot traffic and cycling. The
wider Lake Arcadia trail will accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians with a
far lower risk of accidents.

The brainchild of State Representative
Lewis Moore and David Tew, COO of Mercy Health Services, the Arcadia Lake
Trails Coalition will fund the building of the trails, saving the city and its
citizens tax dollars. The city will cover the cost of planning and development
of the trails—a small fraction of the anticipated $16 million price tag. “Tax
dollars don’t go as far as they used to and these projects are often
supplemented with sponsorship, user fees and partnerships with corporations and
nonprofit organizations. Any time we can collaborate with another entity, it’s
a win-win for all of us,” says Craig Dishman, Director of Edmond’s Parks and
Recreation department.

Proposed MapTew, an avid cyclist, is a
staunch supporter of Edmond’s trail system. “I’m excited about the trails
because of what it means for Edmond,” says Tew. “This trail is another
opportunity for people to get outside and get moving. If you’re healthy and
active, your quality of life is better, plain and simple.”

“The cooperation between the
coalition and the city gives us the chance to maximize opportunities with our
trails plan. I hope it becomes a model for other projects down the road. Trails
are not always at the top of a community’s funding list, so the leverage from a
private group can become very important in seeing projects like trails become
realities,” says Waner. More partnerships such as these will provide Edmond
with opportunities for more ambitious planning. Local residents will be able to
look forward to similar projects in the future—and an increased quality of life
as our city continues to grow.         

Some adjustments have been made to the initial trail
route and design to reflect stakeholders’ input. To learn more, comment on the
project or make a donation, visit arcadialaketrail.com.

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