A portion of the Monument Valley Pathway North project will be eliminated after the Scottsbluff City Council discussed the topic during a special meeting Wednesday evening.
The portion of the route that will be eliminated is what would have extended north and west from a pedestrian overpass that will cross Highway 26 to near the hospital.
However, from the pedestrian overpass on the north side of the highway, the pathway will proceed as planned to the east, terminating at Western Nebraska Community College.
Owners of residential property along that north leg of the route that is being eliminated had expressed concerns about the purchase of right-of-ways by the state that encroached their properties.
City Manager Nathan Johnson told the council they basically had three options available. They could move forward with the project as it was, eliminate the north leg of the route, or cancel the project altogether. Johnson added the latter option would cost the city around $1 million.
A full crowd was on hand for Wednesday’s special meeting, with many citizens showing support for the pathway project as a whole, and many others expressing opposition regarding the acquisition of property for the project and citing safety concerns.
Councilman Scott Shaver said he would prefer working with the state on options that would not include taking property from residents. Shaver said without knowing who’s property south of the highway he supports that portion moving forward. But short of that, Shaver supported removing the north leg to prevent further acquisition.
Former Scottsbluff Parks and Recreation Director Perry Mader, who was responsible for writing the original grant for the pathway, told those in attendance he was there only to provide context. Mader reminded the council this is an “alternative transportation” grant, meaning people who want to go to work or go to school would have the means to get there without using a motor vehicle.
Mader also warned that eliminating all or part of the grant will make it an uphill battle for the city to get future grants.
The penalty for eliminating that portion of the pathway will likely be $50,000 and $100,000, and the council will now have to look at funding options to pay those fees.
With Mayor Raymond Gonzales and councilman Terry Schaub absent from the meeting, Nathan Green, Scott Shaver and Vice-Mayor Jeanne McKerrigan were left with making the choice.