The northern edge of the Sodalis Nature Preserve is set to grow under a land acquisition proposal that will go before the Hannibal City Council during its Tuesday, Dec. 20, meeting. The main benefactors of the property purchase won’t be bats, but humans.
The acre to acre-and-a-half of land being added is located adjacent to Bear Creek, from just west of the old bridge that crosses the creek to the end of St. John’s Street at Patchen Street.
"It’s on the back end of Sodalis," said Andy Dorian, director of the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department during Thursday night’s Park Board meeting. "It’s a piece of property we targeted with The Conservation Fund and U.S. Fish and Wildlife."
The details of the transaction have taken time to hammer out.
"It’s complicated because a lot of people are involved," said Dorian.
Playing a key role in the acquisition will be The Conservation Fund. The national nonprofit organization will cover the sale price of $19,500. The Parks Department will fund the closing cost.
Before the deal can be finalized a phase one environmental analysis of the property must be competed. That study is already underway, according to Dorian.
"If for some reason that phase one comes back scary and recommends a pricey phase two remediation for leaky tanks or something like that, then we have the ability to back out of the deal," he said. "You can get into some very expensive phase two remediation and that’s just not something we’ll probably tangle with. We will address that issue if it arises."
The property is appealing for a number of reasons.
"It’s so important to us because the old railroad line and old road that runs along Bear Creek empties out there so it’s a natural trail head," said Dorian, who envisions signage and gates going up at the trail’s end. "It’s an easy access point for unwanted motor vehicles to access the (Sodalis) property. The goal is to secure that location and then at some point in time extend the asphalt trail along that route of Bear Creek."
Dorian doesn’t know when the new trail section, which will be linked to the current paved trail in Sodalis, might be asphalted.
"We’re not budgeted for that trail yet, but that will be the next phase," he said.
The head of the Parks Department predicts the new section of trail will be popular.
"What’s neat about that is it’s very scenic and it’s very flat," said Dorian. "If you’re someone who really can’t do the hills but likes to walk, they’ll be able to get on the end by South Main and walk all the way down here (by St. John’s Street) and back."
The addition of the new section of trail for Sodalis enables the Parks Department to address one of its primary goals – connectivity.
"We’re trying to get more trails, more mileage. It’s what we hear the most at the Parks Department - more trails, more connections," said Dorian. "We’ll have another big neighborhood connected (by trail) to Sodalis, the dog park, Clemens, the downtown. It continues that connectivity throughout town. And anytime you can stay off streets and wind it (a trail) through, it’s a plus."
Dorian noted that the planned property purchase wouldn’t be possible without help.
"It’s exciting," he said. "The Conservation Fund and U.S Fish and Wildlife have been absolutely awesome partners."
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org