The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 18, 2012

Pittsburg project for cyclists built by students, funded by volunteers

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Starting in the spring — sometimes as early as March — and continuing through the summer, hundreds of bicyclists stream through Pittsburg on their way across the United States on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail.

But with no designated camping site, shower or restroom in Pittsburg, they’ve had to make do by pitching tents in Lincoln Park. If luck is on their side and the buildings are open, some cyclists use the showers at the Pittsburg Aquatic Center or the Pittsburg Family YMCA.

Parks and Recreation Director Kim Vogel noted that the situation has been less than ideal for cyclists, as well as for local children and families who use the park.

Work is under way to change that. A pavilion and a shower-restroom building are being built this month by construction management and masonry students at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg High School and Fort Scott Community College.

The pavilion and restroom are situated at the south edge of the city-owned RV Park, north of Four Oaks Golf Course on 20th Street. Combined, they carry a price tag of $25,000, which the volunteer group Pittsburg Beautiful contributed.

“It’s a win-win all the way around,” Vogel said.

The shower-restroom building also will include a station at which cyclists may wash off their bicycles, do repair work and fill tires with air. The nearby pavilion will include bench seating and electrical outlets so cyclists can charge cellphones, cameras and laptops. Between the two structures is a grassy area flanked on the south side by trees and vegetation, which will make a great camping spot, Vogel said.

Roger Lomshek, owner of the local bicycle shop Tailwind Cyclists, said the project will make Pittsburg even more cyclist-friendly.

“Maps are published by Adventure Cycling Association for cyclists that are kind of like the Yellow Pages, that highlight towns with amenities that are important to cross-country travel,” Lomshek said.

He said the shower-restroom and pavilion will be a plus in Pittsburg’s column.

“This is very forward-thinking,” he said. “There is nothing like this around here — or anywhere else for that matter, except for perhaps bigger metro areas like Seattle.”

PSU construction management instructor Randy Timmi said the project also is of great benefit to the students.

“It uses a model in which seniors act as managers to plan the construction schedule, estimate the cost and manage the project,” he said.

Adam Shoemaker, a PSU construction management major who is acting as project manager for the shower house, said the effort is allowing his team to take a project from concept to completion.

“It’s the culmination of all we’ve learned for the past four years,” he said Friday as he oversaw PHS masonry students Keegan Yoakam, Todd Keller and Austin Mays.

Kyle Wockey, a PSU construction management major who is serving as the job site superintendent, said the project was a chance for the group to work with contracts, order materials and coordinate personnel.

“It’s a great partnership, good for everyone involved,” said Nacoma Oehme, head masonry instructor at Fort Scott Community College. “It’s good for the students to get them out of the shop on actually building a project on the job site, and it’s good for the community because they’re getting free labor and a quality building done right that should serve them well.”

Both structures will be completed this fall and ready for the next season of stopover bicyclists, Vogel said.

Cross-country trail

THE TRANSAMERICA BICYCLE TRAIL was created in 1976 in connection with America’s 200th birthday. That year, more than 2,000 cyclists rode the entire “Bikecentennial” route, from Yorktown, Va., to Astoria, Ore. The trail is the most-used cross-country bicycle touring route.

Source: Kansas Cyclist