A bond issue on the April 5 ballot in Grain Valley would fund community improvements that would benefit schools and families.

A bond issue on the April 5 ballot in Grain Valley would fund community improvements that would benefit schools and families.

The general obligation bond issue is for $2.41 million and would go toward the first phase of a comprehensive pedestrian and bike trail system through Grain Valley.

Brad Welle, president of the Grain Valley Parks Board and principal at Sni-A-Bar Elementary, said the goal is to create a trails system that connects neighborhoods, schools, parks and the downtown area.

There is no levy increase involved with the bond issue, which would require four-sevenths approval to pass.

“This first phase will focus on establishing a trail through Cross Creek Park, a pedestrian connection between the Sni-A-Bar Farms neighborhoods, our largest residential development, to the high school campus and connectivity of the Woodbury neighborhoods to Rosewood Hills and Prairie Branch Elementary,” he said. “We are committed to kicking off the first phase of our city trails system beginning this summer.”

Welle said the reason the city is asking for general obligation bonds, rather than certificates of participation, is because bonds carry a lower interest rate.

Certificates of participation could be acquired through the Grain Valley Board of Aldermen without a vote of the people.

Municipalities sometimes choose certificates of participation rather than bonds when a facility is being built. Rather than owning the facility during construction, the city would lease the facility from the owners of the certificates, essentially making installment payments toward the lease.

In addition, a bond issue is necessary because the half-cent sales tax approved in 2008 generated only $250,000 last year. In the previous year, it generated even less for park improvements.

Most of the funding from the sales tax has gone toward upgrading and renovating park facilities.

“Passage of this measure accelerates construction on what our citizens tell us is a much needed amenity to our community,” Welle said. “Grain Valley citizens listed walking trails as the No. 1 amenity they wanted added to our city in a comprehensive citizens survey in the spring of 2009.

“Passage of this bond issue will help kick-start the effort to deliver trails to our community.”

It will take about two years to complete the first phase of the trails system.

The city of Grain Valley and the Parks and Recreation Department will be responsible for maintenance along the trails.

A subsequent phase of the trails system would create a trail behind Sni-A-Bar Elementary and Grain Valley High School. The trail would then move through three neighborhoods, eventually connecting that area to the Old Towne Marketplace.

“Walking is the physical activity nearly everyone can participate in for their physical fitness. Our trail system will be used by our citizens to promote physical fitness, a healthy lifestyle and family recreation,” Welle said. “These trails will provide safe pedestrian walkways to parks, schools and businesses. The use of trails reduces the impact on the environment compared to gas-powered vehicles. Trails have been shown to improve property values and are a desired amenity people look for in a community.”