NEOSHO, Mo. — In order to meet an application deadline, the Neosho City Council will meet in a special session today to discuss applying for a federal grant that would help pay for bike trails at Morse Park.

Originally discussed in January, the city plans to apply for a Federal Recreational Trails Program grant that would award up to $250,000 for trail projects. It would also require a 20% match from the city, according to documentation provided by the city of Neosho. The application deadline for the grant is Friday.

The council will meet at 2 p.m. today at City Hall.

If awarded, the city intends to use it for the second phase of a two-phase program at the park. The city is already at work on the first phase of the project, which involves:

• At least 5 miles of single track bike trails.

• A half-mile skills loop with features.

• A themed bicycle playground with features.

The city is under contract with Progressive Bike Ramps, of Joplin, to complete design work and is currently evaluating bids for construction of the first phase of trails. About $220,000 was set aside in the current fiscal year budget for construction costs as well as other upgrades across the park system.

The second phase calls for 5 additional miles of bike trails. Progressive's contract calls for the development of those trails. The city is applying for at least two other grants to fund construction of the trails. Parks Director Clint Dalbom in January said that the city will also turn to the business community for building contributions.

The ultimate goal is to build a bicycle trail system that could rival some of the trail networks in Northwest Arkansas. Such a system is believed to help increase tourism revenue and economic development.

If the application is successful, money from the Federal Recreational Trails Program grant would be awarded in early December. Dalbom said in January that if funding was secured, construction on the second phase could begin in 2021.

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

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