Last month, the Columbia Association presented three plans to encircle Lake Kittamaqundi with a footpath designed by BayLand environmental designers.
CA's board already approved planning and engineering funds for the project, according to Dennis Mattey, CA's director of construction.
Currently the pathway traces about two-thirds of the lake, ending in a small loop at Kennedy Gardens, on the east side.
The plan to encircle the lake has been in Howard County's general plan for years and was highlighted in CA's active transportation action agenda, according to Jane Dembner, CA's director of community building and sustainability.
"The pathway around the lake has long been envisioned," said Dembner, in an email. "Nature lovers, runners, walkers, hikers and cyclists are enthusiastic supporters of this missing link around Lake Kittamaqundi. It is also an important part of providing better pedestrian and cycling connections in, to and around Downtown Columbia."
The three plans to complete the pathway vary in cost and how the loop is completed.
The first pathway alignment would pave a current dirt trail that extends where the paved pathway ends, loop the paved pathway around the north section of the lake and connect it to the existing pathway near the Sheraton Columbia Town Center hotel. This plan would also include a footbridge and a boardwalk over flood and wetlands areas that exist at the northern tip of the lake. The total length of the completed loop would be 2 miles. This plan is estimated to be the least expensive, at $513,075 along with a $2,110 annual maintenance cost estimate.
The second pathway alignment would bisect the northern tip of the lake, called Lake Forebay, by building a boardwalk across it. The existing dirt trail from Kennedy Gardens would be paved in this alignment as well. The loop would be 1.8 miles in this plan and the cost is estimated at $644,925 along with $4,250 in estimated yearly maintenace costs.
The third and most expensive alignment proposal is to build a bridge across the river that would connect an extended pathway from Kennedy Gardens with the pathway in front of the Sheraton. That plan would feature a "landmark bridge and unique lake viewing experience" as well as providing boating access under the bridge, according to the planners. The loop would be 1.2 miles long with this plan. The cost is estimated at $899,325 along with $6,760 in annual maintenace.
In its feasibility study, BayLand recommended CA choose the first plan because it provides the longest trail, is least expensive in intial cost and maintenance and has the least environmental impacts to the lake's wetlands.
CA is presenting the three plans to the Town Center Village Board on March 27, according to Mattey.
If a consensus can be reached on a plan, construction would likely begin in the summer of 2014, said Mattey. But first, CA would have to obtain permits from the county, state and Army Corps (due to wetlands and waterways), said Mattey.
CA's board approved $50,000 in Fiscal Year 2013 for a study and $220,000 in Fiscal Year 2014 for planning designing and engineering of the loop, according to CA's spokesperson David Greisman. Greisman said these funds will be more than what's needed and extra funds will be applied to construction. The remaining funds for construction will be requested in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, according to Greisman.