Members of the Grove City Council gave their verbal - and written blessing - to officials from Har-Ber Village in Grove, to begin moving forward with a funding request regarding continuing trail improvements.

During the meeting, which took place on Tuesday, Jan. 2, Har-Ber Village Executive Director Amelia Chamberlain, updated the council concerning the state of Phase 1, of the Nature Trail, and what Phase 2 will consist of when complete.

The Nature Trail improvements began in Jan. 2017, when village officials applied for a grant from the Oklahoma State Recreation and Tourism Department to create an accessible trail, which includes the log cabin construction.

Chamberlin said progress to date includes flooring and roofing for the log cabin reconstruction project, the clearing of old trail paths, the regrading and regraveling of those paths, and new ADA trail paths surveyed and plotted.

Chamberlin said a project completion/grand opening of the trail should come by late May or early June of this year.

The second phase, if funding is approved by the state, will open up additional areas previously inaccessible to visitors.

It will include the replacement of sidewalks along the shoreline with eight-foot wide paved paths, and improvements made to eroding banks and walls. This new area will also include a dock a lake-side approach to the trail and village by water, and a parking lot with wheelchair accessibility to the shoreline trail. 

In making her request to the council, which was approved unanimously by a vote of 4 to 0 (with Councilman Marty Dyer absent), Chamberlin said the letter of support from the city will be included in the village's application for the Phase 2 project.

A public meeting, to gather ideas and comments, to also be included in the application packet is set for noon, Tuesday, Jan. 16, in Room 5 of the Grove Community Center.

Chamberlin said the improved nature trail will be just one of the many things set to take place during this year's 50th Anniversary celebration at Har-Ber Village. 

Sales tax

Council members voted to move forward with setting a special election, most likely during the June 28 primary election, to place before Grove voters a renewal of the .4 percent sales tax which expires June 30, 2021. 

The council approved the language, which would appear in a resolution calling for the election. The language sets the sales tax proceeds to be used for capital improvement projects, including, but not limited to debt service for GMSA and street repairs within the city limits.

In making the presentation Grove City Manager Bill Keefer said the tax is needed because it helps the city keep from increasing utility rates when repairs or capital improvements are needed.

There was some discussion about having the election in April, but council members - including Mayor Ed Trumbull - thought a June election would allow additional time to educate voters about the need.

He suggested the council work with the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce to help spread information, saying the organization played a vital role in helping the city pass the hotel/motel tax which now funds the Convention and Tourism Bureau.

"This is important in the long haul to the community," Keefer said. 

After further discussion, Trumbull suggested keeping the tax with a 20-year collection period, which allows it to come back before voters rather than be automatically renewing tax. 

Working with the chamber

In other business, the council approved, without discussion, allowing the Grove Area Chamber of Commerce to develop/use a modified logo based upon the current Grove Convention and Tourism Bureau logo. 

In making the request at an earlier meeting, Grove Area Chamber President Donnie Crain said this will allow the chamber to work with the CTB to build a consistent brand for Grove.

Crain also announced a chamber/CTB joint venture, a music festival/event known as Toes in Grand Summer Kick-Off set for June 1 and 2 at Wolf Creek Park.