Jul 232014

By Tammy Gray

Construction of a community walking path at the Navajo County complex in Holbrook is still underway, with the projected opening to the public pushed back to early September.

The 2.3-mile loop will circle around the entire county complex, taking in the high desert landscape around it. The loop includes shortcuts and alternate routes for those seeking either a longer or a shorter workout.

Construction began in earnest on the trail during a groundbreaking on June 7, and the White Mountain Youth Conservation Corps was contracted to complete the trail at a cost of $12,000 to the county. In addition to clearing and grading, work on the trail was expected to include small bridges or raised paths across washes, and low retaining walls to prevent damage from rain. Millings will be placed on the trail once it is complete to help preserve the surface and delineate the path.

Once construction is complete, everyone in the community is welcome and encouraged to use the trail.

The idea for the path began with a conversation between Navajo County Clerk of the Board Melissa Buckley and former health district director Dr. Wade Kartchner in which Buckley noted that a lot of county employees and community members enjoy walking as exercise, but could better enjoy it if there were a place free from traffic, loose dogs and other distractions. From that conversation a committee was formed and a path mapped. A contest was held to name the trail, which has been officially designated Nizhoni Community Walking Path.

The start of the trail is located near the racquetball courts at the county complex, and it will be marked with signs and a small kiosk. The path was expected to open by July 9, but eager walkers and runners will have to wait until closer to fall to use it. An official grand opening is tentatively planned for early September.

Meanwhile, City of Holbrook officials are considering building a similar walking path in town next to the Little Colorado River levee. Councilman Bobby Tyler has asked staff members to look into the possibility of constructing a walking path or exercise trail in the unused land near the levee. The council was set to discuss the possibility during a July 22 meeting.