"Friends of the Trail" start planning bike route through Lawton

Lawton_Lawton's "Friends of the Trail" are wasting no time in putting their windfall to good use. The Comanche Nation recently gave them $100,000 toward the city-wide bike and walking trail project.

And Thursday, they had their first planning meeting with the Dallas project manager, and they opened it up to the public for their suggestions. The planners started creating their 20-year improvement plan, and they are confident the money will keep pouring in to fund it.  People suggested using old railways, creekbeds, alleys and just about anything else they could get their hands on. But they also expressed their concerns about harming existing trees along the trail routes, crossing Interstate 44 and using busy traffic streets like Cache and Sheridan roads.

"It's probably the best thing that has ever happened to Lawton in my opinion," said Lon Parks, with Friends of the Trail.

It wasn't just Lon Parks and his friends of the trail group who felt that way. Residents from all over Lawton came together tonight to find a way to get more bikes and pedestrians out in town.

"What we have started with is really a blank slate," said Project Manager Andy Howard. "We've said this is some of the existing network, but tonight what we are saying is where do you want to walk and bike? And show us on the maps, and we are going to do our best to accommodate that."

There were dreams from creating trails along creeks and through wooded areas, to complaints about cars taking over the city.

"Well the major thing that we found," one person said, "there's no access for bicycles or walking from Gore Boulevard all the way down into the mall."

But the Friends of the Trail are excited to take another big step toward getting people walking.

"I think it'll mean an improved lifestyle" Parks said. "It'll mean the kids in the neighborhoods can ride their bikes. They can ride their bikes and walk to school. You want to walk your dog? You don't have to worry about getting run over by the car behind you."

Parks said the trail will add a way of life that Lawtonians don't have now. Not only will it provide tourism, exercise and child safety, it will beautify Lawton.

"And almost everywhere you see trails go, you see trees and you see things to make the town prettier," Parks said. "So it's a double deal. It works on both directions. And that's what we all want is a nicer place to live."

And the trail they're building isn't just pavement. They will include water fountains, benches, landscaping, pedestrian crossing signals, and anything else needed to enhance safety and beautify the city.It's not too late to put in your two cents. You can still mark the routes you would like the trail to take by logging onto the city's web site.