Fundraising is still the major concern four years after establishing the Leon Springs Trail Foundation, but members aren’t about to give up on the dream to create a new greenway.
One of the group’s latest initiatives is to reach 20 to 30 percent of a funding goal to secure potential, additional disbursements from the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, said foundation Chairman Joel R. Huehn.
The nonprofit needs $3.7 million to $4 million to create Leon Springs Trail, added founder Huehn, a veterinarian and owner of Boerne Stage Veterinary Clinic.
“It’s a lot of money to ask for, and it’s not a shovel-ready project,” Huehn said.
Originally the group budgeted for $3 million, and set a goal of $100,000 by early 2018, ultimately falling short.
The plan calls for building a 2.7-mile, 10-foot-wide reinforced concrete trail in the greenway along Boerne Stage Road and Leon Creek from Interstate 10 West to 25550 Boerne Stage.
Foundation members seek a safe, pleasant route for walkers, runners and cyclists along Leon Creek.
“The creeks are beautiful and the flood plain is not a place where people are trying to develop. … Flood plains are mostly used for recreation,” said the city’s Parks & Recreation Department’s Special Projects Manager Brandon Ross.
Huehn noted volunteers tried numerous tactics to raise money, with limited success.
“We’ve gone more down the trail of trying to set up the idea, or the infrastructure for a broader audience of small donations, and not really based on an event, but based on desires for the cause,” Huehn said.
The group has been at several venues recently, including Leon Springs Night, a local Fiesta event, and Aue Elementary School’s Health Expo.
The foundation has 10 to 15 active members.
The nonprofit seeks corporate sponsorships, or even letters of intent.
If the organization can amass donations reaching 30 percent of its need, that improves the likelihood of acknowledgement by AAMPO, distributor of government funds for road and infrastructure projects.
“If we get to that step, I don’t want to say it’s a shoo-in, but it’s extraordinarily likely,” Huehn said.
The concept is to eventually hand off the trail to Parks & Recreation, while also creating a group similar to Friends of Friedrich Wilderness Park, a volunteer nonprofit backing the nearby preserve.
Michael Giampietro, treasurer for the Stage Run Homeowners Association, said neighbors already maintain the existing Leon Springs trail, created from years of foot traffic.
He and his wife run, bike and walk their dogs along the path.
“I love having stuff like that around. I think that kind of stuff is great. It gets people out and active, and doing things,” Giampietro said.
Having a dedicated trail close to the neighborhood would be a plus, he added.
“We can just walk out the front door. We don’t have to drive anywhere. We can enjoy nature and be outside. That’s awesome,” Giampietro said.
Friedrich Wilderness and Russell parks are the two closest public natural areas near Leon Springs.
The trail group’s ultimate goal is to expand the path to The Rim shopping center, perhaps even someday linking to the city-maintained Howard W. Peak Greenway, which spans about 65 miles.
“I have had people say that they are interested in relocating or buying a house near the greenways,” said Ross, who works on the Peak trail, named for the former mayor and fitness fan. “I think it’s drawing people. We’ve had more and more communities that have asked for us to consider connecting into their neighborhood area.”
According to a brochure, the principal reasons for the Leon Springs project is to provide a means for safe, pleasant and effective exercise; improve the overall appearance of the adjacent roadway; enhance property values; and connect the community.
The notion to build a trail by Boerne Stage Road is on Parks & Recreation’s radar, but not for another 40 to 60 years, Huehn said.
“We want to try and get something done sooner than that. That’s why we’ve been trying to reach out and talk to as many people, learn as much as we can about how to get things done. It needs to happen,” Huehn said.
For more on the foundation or to donate, visit leonspringstrail.org or facebook.com/leonspringstrail.
Those interested in corporate sponsorships can email Vice Chairman Art Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.