By Sally Voth
The Happy Creek Trail is on the path to creation.
The Front Royal Town Council on Monday approved an ordinance between the town and the Boisseau Family L.C./L.C. 22 and Royal Plaza Associates. The agreement provides an easement for a biking and walking trail near the Royal Plaza Shopping Center.
"Now, we have to go through property closing," Town Manager Steve Burke said Tuesday. "It's been authorized by council, and we will be proceeding to finalize transfer and easement documentation."
He said the trail has been in the works for more than 25 years.
"We don't have a timeline for coming to fruition," Burke said. "We have been working with council to identify funding as well as establishing a schedule for construction. But, we do hope to have it proceeding this year."
The 20-foot wide easement will facilitate construction of about a 1 ½-mile trail from South Street to Criser Road, he said.
"It's wooded, and it will be in close proximity to Happy Creek," Burke said. "We are anticipating it being a paved trail."
He said the town is swapping some property in exchange for the trail easement and a small parcel near Commerce Avenue.
Councilman Eugene R. Tewalt said he has worked with the Boisseau family on the easement for about two years. He said during Monday's meeting he planned to ask the town to budget $100,000 for trail construction.
Members of the Front Royal-Warren County Tree Stewards spoke in favor of the agreement at the meeting.
The organization revived the trail concept about five years ago, Sandra Wilson said. The stewards arranged for the Community Design Assistance Center at Virginia Tech to plan a biking and walking trail of more than four miles, including the section along Happy Creek.
"Trails, as most of you know, that encourage walking by our local residents are important for health and exercise, and, if you think about it, there is no way for people in the main part of Front Royal to get to, for instance, Samuels Public Library by walking until we get this trail," Wilson said.
She said the Happy Creek trail would complement Eastham Trail.
David Means, one of the Tree Stewards at Monday's meeting, said on Tuesday afternoon that, "I felt it very important that this trail become active,"
He said the larger trail system has been a joint effort involving Front Royal, Warren County and Shenandoah National Park.
"It will be a great resource once it's completed," Means said. "People use trails. Once one's in place, this will be no exception, and I'm sure it will be a tourist draw. It's really one of the best things that has brought this community together in a positive way."
Alex Bridges contributed to this report.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org