Parish blazing Garyville trail; Councilman said residents fear vandalism

Published 12:11 am Saturday, December 12, 2015

GARYVILLE — The Garyville Timbermill Trail is one step closer to completion.

Phase 1 of the multi-phase bike and walking trail was recently finished, and St. John the Baptist Parish officials hope it’s totally complete within eight months.

When complete, the entire trail will stretch from Garyville to Airline Highway.

St. John Chief Administrative Officer Michael Coburn said the trail is an extension of the Mississippi Trail on top of the levee.

“It’s a bike trail, that’s basically what it is,” he said. “There are three phases, and we just completed Phase 1. We came up Museum Street in Garyville, came up behind the Timbermill Museum, crossed the canal and moved up along the canal probably a quarter of a mile. The next phase, which is Phase 2, will continue from the point we left off and go all the way to Kansas City Railroad. Then, it would take a left at the railroad and move over to Highway 54. Phase 3 would be Highway 54 all the way to Airline Highway.”

According to Coburn, trail work is funded through a grant from the Recreational Trails Program of Louisiana at a total cost of $542,000.

The Garyville Timbermill Trail is designed for walkers and pedestrians.

“You can’t get in your car and go riding down it,” Coburn said. “It’s not that big and it’s not that wide. It’s about eight feet wide. It’s a recreational trail behind a wooded area.”

Phase 1 work began in July and was completed in September, and Phase 2 is about to be under way.

“There is some private property involved in Phase 2,” Coburn said. “We are working out the details with the private property owner. Everything has been agreed to. We just have to sign off on the documents. Once the documents get signed, Phase 2 will automatically start.”

With the trail going through his district, District 2 Councilman Ranney Wilson said some residents aren’t entirely thrilled with it.

“There are a lot of people that don’t want it because it goes behind their houses, and I can understand that,” Wilson said.

“I’m in favor of the trail, just not where they put it. It’s going to pass behind people’s houses, and once that trail is there, there are going to be people going on there with their four wheelers. We already have a problem with that. There is going to be people and bicycles and people are going to have to watch everything in their backyard from theft and everything else.”

Coburn said he, personally, has not received any complaints from residents upset about the trail.

“I think it’s going to be safe,” he said.

“I can’t say nothing is going to happen, but I think it’s going to be a very safe area. People are going to be riding their bikes, they aren’t going to stop to vandalize anything, we don’t think.”

Once the entire trail is completed, Coburn said excess funds from the grant would be used to put up some signage up and “things like that.”

He hopes residents take advantage when the new recreational trail is complete.

“I’ve been on the trail, I live in Garyville and it’s very nice,” Coburn said.

“It’s an added feature. People can see the historic town of Garyville. People can see the old bank in Garyville, the Timber Museum; there is Fatty’s Restaurant right there. People can get off the trail, get a bite to eat, take some time to look around to explore Garyville then head up to Airline Highway.”

He said the Parish has been getting a lot of attention from bicycle riders, adding they seem excited about the trail because it’s another route to.

“I’m talking about people who ride their bikes 12, 15, 20, 30 miles,” Coburn said. “It’s a another feature for people to get to exercise and see the beauty of St. John Parish.”