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Tami and I have lived in Town & Country, MO for almost 20 years. It’s a great place to raise a family. But not always a great place to enjoy the beautiful environs unless you are fully ensconced in several thousand pounds of metal set on four wheels. I made a big enough fuss about a lack of sidewalks and trails that Alderman Wiggins and Alderman Clayton invited me to join the Parks & Trails Commission many years ago thinking I would shut up or give up. It didn’t work.
This evening I had the distinct honor of addressing the City of Town & Country Board of Alderman. Here are my comments which came in at 2 min 43 secs, well under the 3 minute limit (#overachiever):
I’d like to report an incident that occurred in the middle of Town & Country at 5:30 AM on April 4th. There was a crazy man on the newly paved Clayton Road Trail laughing hysterically, waving his arms, kissing the newly laid asphalt and generally acting like an idiot. . . and I would like to apologize for my behavior. My sincere thanks to our Mayor, the Board of Alderman, our Parks Director, our City Engineer, the Parks & Trails Commission and all those who came before who worked so hard to make that particular moment full of strong emotions possible. Our new trail is absolutely beautiful and I am not at all surprised to see so many of our friends and neighbors using it.
13 years ago I joined the Parks & Trails commission. Having traveled to many cities with extensive trail systems, I knew that Town & Country was missing out. We were missing the opportunity to create connections, create friendships and create a healthier more vibrant community. At one of my first meetings I shared these thoughts with the commission and was pulled aside afterwards by one of our alderman who counseled in a fatherly manner that the people of Town & Country did not want a trail along Clayton Road and that it would, quite simply, never happen.
A few weeks ago I was out running on that trail that would never happen and caught up with a mother getting in her workout while pushing a jogging stroller with her 9 month old son, Asher, along for the ride. She told me that she used to be very active, but when she and her husband started a family (they now have four kids) there was no easy, safe place to walk, run or bike. I asked her what she thought of our new trail and she told me, “If you were to offer me a choice between this trail and a million dollars, I’m not sure which one I would choose.”
I cannot express the pride I felt for our city at that moment. But as I headed south on Topping Road toward my home, I passed two ladies headed the opposite direction toward the Clayton Road Trail . . . they were walking on the road and one of them was pushing a stroller. It was a very poignant reminder that our work is not done.
The Clayton Road Trail proves that if you build it, they will come . . . it serves as an open invitation to explore, to connect, to make friends, to get greener, to be healthy. I believe we will look back 20 years from now and realize that there is very little we could have done that would have more positive impact on strengthening the fabric of our community than investing in a trail system.
Fully understanding the limitations of my musical abilities, I will not sign off by singing “Happy Trails” but, until we meet again, you have my sincere admiration, respect and gratitude. Thank you for a job well begun.
13 years to get one major trail. On one hand I feel like a complete failure. And on the other, I am proud to have stuck with it. This has taken many, many hours, days, weeks, months and years . . . but we now have a start. And it is a very good start, at that.
Those in line for specific shout-outs: Former mayor and current alderman, Skip Mange, a force of nature who willed Longview Farm Park into existence and planted the seed for a trail system. Mayor Jon Dalton; we are very fortunate to have such a wise, talented and dapper leader. Alderman Lynn Wright and Parks Director Anne Nixon, both of whom took the time to go door-to-door to make this project a reality. City Engineer Craig Wilde completely pissed me off a few years ago saying it would take a few years to get it done right . . . and it finally got done right . . . and he was right. Great job, Craig. Also, many thanks to my fellow Parks & Trails commissioners…very proud to serve with this talented and selfless group. Our work is not done, but we have a good start.
Training Update: 100 miles this past week, 1548 ytd. Took today off, but no major aches/pains to report. Grandma’s Marathon this coming Saturday in Duluth, MN! I’m thinking a little crazy on this one . . . more about this special race in a few days.
Life & Hope Fund Update: $3572 committed so far . . . THANK YOU! Special thanks this week to Trisha, Kyle and Carson Hoefel for their support of this awesome cause. Want to donate, click here!
Happy Trails 🙂