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A trailblazer

To the editor:

I was saddened to hear about the passing of Susan Berg in last week’s Marion County Record.

In her obituary, it was mentioned that she had a part in moving the Marion City Library into the old railroad depot.

Susan was part of a trio consisting of her, Janet Marler, and myself that wrote a Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century grant request for 80% of the cost of renovation of the depot.

Susan was a very talented writer and contributed much to the effort that resulted in a facility that serves the citizens of Marion and preserves a historical building that was integral to the development of Marion County.

In the Sept. 13 issue of the Record there was a letter to the editor from Clark Coan representing the Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservation that mentioned federal funding that could help pay for building a trail on the old rail bed to Marion Reservoir.

Ironically, the year after Susan, Janet and I had written and received the TEA 21 grant for the depot renovation, I was contacted, asking if we would be interested in applying for a grant to build a trail on the rail-banked right-of-way.

Because of opposition to trail development by adjacent landowners and the Kansas Farm Bureau, there was no possibility of Marion County Commission signing onto the grant request, which was a necessity for a TEA 21 grant.

I was part of the Central Kansas Conservancy, which had rail-banked the abandoned right-of-way at least 10 years earlier, and knew that bike trails were a non-starter for the Marion County Commission.

One can only imagine what a fully developed and mature walking / bike trail starting at the Marion City Library and going across the Cottonwood River to Marion Reservoir would have been like.

Harry E. Bennett
Madison, Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Imagine combining that with a pending project for a walking trail in Marion, creating a trail not through a residential area and around a ballpark but continuing from the library along Luta Creek or old channels of it and the Cottonwood River. Such natural trails through historic areas might be relatively common in Wisconsin but could help draw visitors in Kansas.

Last modified Oct. 19, 2023

 

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