Dayhoff: Wakefield Valley Trail network takes another step forward

Work will take a step forward this spring on completing another phase of an extensive walking and biking trail that is being built around and throughout the City of Westminster and central Carroll County.

Roads, trails and transportation issues in Carroll County have been a contentious issue since the 1700s, long before there even was a Carroll County and what we know today as Westminster's Main Street was a Native American trail that meandered through a swamp.


It may be argued that Carroll County was formed, in part, as a result of local citizens setting aside their regional differences to focus upon addressing bad roads.

According to research for the Historical Society of Carroll County by local historians Jay Graybeal, Mimi Ashcraft and Joe Getty; the mayor of Westminster from 1892 to 1895, Joseph D. Brooks, gave a presentation on Jan. 19, 1923, titled "Roads and Politics." At the time, Brooks astutely remarked, "Very often the roads in a community are an index to the character of the inhabitants… ."

Brooks went on to say that it was not until about 1800 that the "Baltimore capitalists awoke" to the fact that they were missing a lot of business to Philadelphia because there were no good roads across Carroll County to the markets out west.

Almost 50 years ago the pace began to quicken for a countywide greenways linear park hiking, biking, and running trail system and the greater Westminster Community Trail in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Fast forward to this spring and many of us who do not like snow and cold weather cannot wait to get outside. Now that the days are getting longer and warmer and colorful spring flowers are beginning to perk up and crowd out the over-bearing gray of winter, there are reports of numerous cases of spring fever blossoming in Carroll County.

However, for many walkers, runners and bikers, the prettiest of all the colors this spring are not spring flowers after all, but the orange flags of the surveyor stakes that recently appeared in the field between Uniontown Road and West Main Street just west of New Windsor Road.

A recent phone and e-mail interview with Jeff Glass, the Westminster director of public works, and Mike Matov, the Westminster senior public works engineer, confirmed that work will soon begin on the long-awaited remaining 735-foot long walking and biking spur that will extend the northern end of the Wakefield Valley Trail. Glass agreed with Matov that they are glad to see the project move forward. "We've been working on this for many years."

The planning began for the Wakefield trail in 1994. Older runners and urban planners in the county remember that back then it was to be named the Terry Burk Trail after the popular runner and the second-generation owner of the Treat Shop in Westminster. On Aug. 10, 1995, Burk was struck by a car and killed while jogging with friends on Md. 97 at Kalten Road.

The 10-foot wide pervious blacktop spur will extend from Uniontown Road to the "new" sidewalks that were installed on W. Main St. along the Western Maryland College —now McDaniel — campus when the road was rebuilt 1999 to July 2001.

According to Matov, the Westminster Mayor and Common Council agreed to proceed with the project on Feb. 22, and award the winning bid to Conewago Enterprises, a construction company with a long history of successful projects in the Westminster and Carroll County area. "Actual construction activities" are scheduled to begin around April 15 and are set to be completed by around August 26.