ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Kirby Lake could be getting a new trail that would be seven miles long. In a January 18 committee hearing, four different project proposals were discussed during public comments, and a Kirby Lake trail was by far the most popular discussion.
The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee searches for projects to be put on city bonds, and they wanted to hear opinions from the community on three possible projects: Two new recreation centers, a new fire station and a new seven-mile trail around Lake Kirby.
Nearly 50 people showed up to this meeting, more than expected, and many spoke about the trail. This includes McMurry biology professor, Dr. Joel Brant, who said he often goes to Lake Kirby, and would like to see a change.
“I think by having a more extensive trail system, you’re gonna get more people going out to Kirby and you’re gonna get more people learning, from my opinion, about the wildlife and plants that are out [there].”
With a new trail, Dr. Brant said he it could very well encourage education, health and bring more people to Abilene.
Susan Lingle was not able to make it to the meeting, but has spoken up about this issue to others, encouraging them to make a change. She told KTAB/KRBC she does this because there isn’t much more she can do living outside Abilene City limits.
Beginning as a way to clear her mind just ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lingle took up hiking and running. When the pandemic shut down travel, she resorted to using the trails at Kirby Lake. As a therapist, who has worked with people with disabilities, she realized it was not accessible for everyone.
“It’s like a rough trail, or like a gravel road, basically,” Lingle explained.
Lingle said she wants to encourage a new trail that is accessible for those who need walkers or other adaptable equipment.
“I firmly believe that the outdoors is for everyone, whether ability or ambulation,” Lingle advocated.
Rosten Callarman, a member of the committee, told KTAB/KRBC these projects will be recommended to the Abilene City Council. From there, council will decide whether they want to move forward and put a new trail on an election ballot or not.
Should council choose to move forward, Callarman said Abilene residents will vote for the project. He said altogether, the four projects are estimated to cost $40 million.
“If the city decides to move forward with it, then they’ll decide which upcoming election they will put it into,” says Callarman.
If the city does move forward, Callarman said the committee is recommending to the city that the two recreation centers go on the same ballot as the trail, and the new fire station being on its own ballot.