Southwest Missouri group seeks to derail trail idea

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. -- A group of residents hopes to derail plans to convert an abandoned stretch of railroad tracks in Missouri and Kansas into a recreational trail.

Landowner Paul Hance is leading a petition drive in southwest Missouri to stop the project that involves the old Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway line between Carthage, Mo., and Columbus, Kan. He already has collected more than 400 signatures on petitions in several communities.

Hance, who operates a lumberyard in his hometown of Carl Junction, is worried that he would have to increase his property insurance if the trail runs through his land.

Several of his customers seem to agree, he said.

"It is strictly no good," Hance said, adding that he has heard more dirty words about the project "here than in a beer joint."

Mayor Jim Wisdom, however, envisions the railroad tracks being turned into a pleasant setting where people could walk, ride bicycles and enjoy nature.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the city to acquire a piece of property to be used for the enjoyment of the people of this city," Wisdom said.

The proposed trail also would link the schools on the local campus, making it easier for buses to service students, he said.

Randy Fletcher, a lifelong Carl Junction resident, said, "I see a tremendous liability for me. I don't want to have to carry the extra insurance."

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