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JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

GRANITE SHOALS — Before he left for the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships last month, Olympic silver medalist Leonel Manzano spent some time walking the first part of the trail system in his home town of Granite Shoals.
Manzano, a 2004 graduate of Marble Falls High School, was impressed.

“One word – incredible,” he said. “It’s going to be really big for the community. It’s for everyone. It’s incredible for the community.”

Once he turned pro, Manzano made it a goal through the Leo Manzano Foundation to create trail systems in the Highland Lakes as a way to encourage people to get fit. His hope is to encourage students to follow in his footsteps.

“I really want everyone to come out and support and enjoy it,” Manzano said. “There’s very few places you can go out and run. This is so good for the community.”

Granite Shoals Mayor Dennis Maier walked with Manzano on the trail.

“Leo Manzano was very enthusiastic and impressed to hear the availability in Granite Shoals, and so am I,” Maier said. “It’s really a nature area. I think people will enjoy walking it when we clear the cactus.”

Manzano walked the trails with Frank Reilly, former Granite Shoals mayor and leader of the project that also includes the Andy Roddick Tennis Center.

“He’s the guy who needs to take credit,” the runner said. “I feel like I had nothing to do with it.”

“This is the first stage,” Reilly said of the parts he and Manzano walked. Parks and Recreation Commissioner Shirley King and architect Marley Porter also walked the trail.

The outer loop is approximately three miles, Reilly said.

“It’s very good to see the project moving forward,” he said. “It’s a nice addition to Quarry Park.”

The estimated cost of the trail system is $91,000. The grant for it is $71,000. The city will have an in-kind value of granite that totals $20,000.

Another grant totals $100,000 for Quarry Park, which is the area at the entrance of the complex. It will include an interpretive center, wildflower garden and a natural trail around one of the quarry pits, the mayor said.

“Part of the delay is the two grants have been tied together,” Maier said. “Federal money is really kind of up in the air. My understanding is this was funded from past years. We’ve been approved for the grants. The funding comes from the federal government. The grant people told me it hasn’t been released.”

Because the money hasn’t been released, Maier said there is no timetable for when bids will be accepted for construction.

The goal for the trails to start is by the end of the year, he said.

“As for Quarry Park, we could start on it, but (Texas Parks and Wildlife) said if you do, they won’t reimburse you for what you’ve done,” he said.

jfierro@thepicayune.com