JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
GRANITE SHOALS — Almost two years after walking what would become a trail system, Olympic silver medalist Leonel Manzano will return to his hometown May 9 for the official opening of the Leonel Manzano Trail.
The official ribbon-cutting day will feature a small grand opening ceremony that begins at 9 a.m. near the start of the trail at city hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road.
Granite Shoals City Manager Ken Nickel said the public is welcome, and Manzano is inviting attendees to run the 2.44-mile trail with him. At 11 a.m., cyclists will be allowed on the course for the first time.
Currently, the trail is closed as workers are putting on the finishing touches.
The trail is as small as 5 feet wide in some areas and as big as 10 feet wide in others. In addition, William David Reynolds used some boulders that were found as the trail was being constructed to devise some “almost sculpture-like” creations along the pathways, Nickel said.
“It’s a major step forward in the area of bringing things for our residents to do,” he said. “I think it’s the responsibility of each town to provide residents the opportunity to use recreation opportunities. We have first-class water parks that at least have boat docks, swings and some barbecue grills. One of the things we’ve been missing is other recreational parks.”
But council members and city staff are addressing that, he said.
Earlier this year, two regulation-size tennis courts opened at the Roddick Tennis Center, also located at 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. In the building next door to those tennis courts, Nickel said an indoor soccer field will be created. And an outdoor soccer field located on city-owned land also will be constructed, though he declined to state the location as officials are still in the planning process. He said, however, that city staff members have spoken to residents, who are on board with having the field in their neighborhood.
Both fields will be 45 feet wide by 75 feet long, which means they will not be regulation-size but big enough to play competitive games. The projected cost of buying two sets of soccer goals and installation is $2,500, which was taken out of the city’s restricted park fund.
The city already has 11 water parks with different combinations of a pavilion, barbecue grills, swing sets and fishing docks.
Nickel fondly recalled having plenty of recreational places from which to choose when he was a boy and a teenager. Those options helped him strengthen friendships, kept him out of trouble and provided him with a lot of fun memories. Now, he hopes to be able to do the same for the younger residents in Granite Shoals.
“It’s not only a safe place to live but a great place to raise children,” he said. “It helps to have something to do.”
Go to graniteshoals.org for more information.