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Bastrop’s $615,000 River Loop Trail awarded CAMPO, nonprofit funding

City will begin construction and get reimbursed by state

Former Bastrop Mayor Ken Kesselus remembers the days when Texas 21 wasn’t a highly trafficked thoroughfare, and kids would bike along the roadway to swim at the Bastrop State Park pool.

It was the late 1950s and 1960s in Bastrop, before the highway department built Texas 71 on the city’s southern edge. The pool at the state park was the community’s only public pool.

“When we were kids, the only swimming pool we had was out at the state park. We’d ride out bicycles up there; and we’d go swimming; and we’d come back,” Kesselus recalled. “The state park at that point was really the city’s park, more or less.”

“Somehow, the traffic wasn’t that bad, and our parents let us do it — at 10, 11, 12 years old,” he said.

During his time as mayor, from 2014 to 2017, the city began launching efforts to build the River Loop Trail, a 1.8-mile sidewalk system that would encircle the city’s core by connecting Texas 71, Chestnut Street and Main Street — a first step toward an interconnected trail system that one day may reach the state park.

City officials announced Tuesday that the planned River Loop Trail project will come at little cost to local taxpayers. That’s because the $615,000 project will be funded nearly entirely by grants.

A $475,000 grant from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and a $130,000 grant from Keep Bastrop County Beautiful, a Keep Texas Beautiful local affiliate, has left local taxpayers with a $9,800 tab for the project.

That tab will be picked up by the Bastrop Economic Development Corp., which annually receives about $2.2 million of city sales tax revenue. City and BEDC officials initially expected the corporation would be financing at least $180,000 for the project.

That trail system could then be supplemented by a $1.3 million trail project that would connect Bastrop State Park and Mayfest Park to Chestnut Street. That project is estimated to begin in 2019 and will also be funded in part by state grants.

For the full story, please visit Statesman.com