By Tripp Laino
The mercury continues to climb, making May the perfect time for outdoor exploration — and there’s no better place to enjoy it than CA’s 94 miles of pathways and more than 3,600 acres of open space.
“People are taking advantage of our outdoor areas — there’s certainly plenty to explore and enjoy,” said Sean Harbaugh, CA’s assistant division director of Open Space Management. “In fact, we invite you to ‘get lost’ as you traverse CA’s miles of pathways.”
To help keep that space looking its best, about 60 staff members from CA’s open space and landscape crews (plus some contractors) maintain the pathways, grass and recreation areas, according to Harbaugh.
In early spring, crews plant tens of thousands of flowers around CA facilities, as well as locations near welcome signs and village signs. Staff also inspect those signs and will clean, paint or make minor repairs as needed as part of preparing for the spring and summer seasons.
The pathways also get regular inspections and maintenance — the growth of tree roots and the freezing and thawing in winter can cause cracks and breakages. Summer thunderstorms occasionally bring down trees and branches, so staff search for and remove limbs around facilities and pathways after storms. Damaged trees around facilities are removed, while in open space areas the trees are sometimes downed and then moved to areas free of pedestrians, Harbaugh said.
While the pathways occasionally play host to organized running and walking events, most of their use comes from residents running, biking or simply taking a walk to enjoy the scenery. Crews are in the process of widening some of CA’s pathways, allowing more room for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
“We’re widening a lot of the main routes and the pathways to 10 feet, or slightly narrower depending on the area — we’re trying to avoid cutting trees down unnecessarily,” said Rob Plummer, project manager for CA. “We’re working at Lake Kittamaqundi widening the areas next to the bridges and then we’re going over to Lake Elkhorn to fix that up and widen it.”
If you’re looking for ways to explore CA’s pathways, you can purchase a paper map at the Customer and Member Service Center.