Within the next year, the neighborhood will have a trail that stretches from Central to Preston with crossings along the way — and it will be the only segment of the city’s overall system directly running east and west.

“This is a pretty major corridor,” said Kris Brown, principal of La Terra Studio hired to design the trail.

Brown and city officials offered a closer look at the schematic plans for the first 2.2-mile phase of the Northaven Trail Tuesday night during a meeting at the Jewish Community Center. The plan includes three major points:

  • Valleydale Trail Head, which includes a small parking lot near the JCC
  • Hillcrest Crossing
  • Preston Crossing – a major hurdle for adding a signal since Preston Road is a state highway (289).

Construction is set to begin in early 2011 and will take 6-9 months to complete. Dallas County is doing a feasibility study to connect the Northaven Trail to White Rock Creek Trail, Cottonwood Trail and Union Pacific.

Some neighbors expressed concern about how close the 12-foot concrete trail would come to their property. Brown said the plan calls for a 20-foot distance between the edge of private property and the trail.

“Our goal is to maintain a buffer between the trail user and the property owner,” he said.

One resident, who declined to giver her name, lives in a cul-de-sac between Freda Stern and St. Michaels and worries the new trail will attract more crime to the area, which has already seen two home burglaries in the past couple of weeks.

“We are extremely opposed to this,” she said. “It’s going to bring more unwanted people. I don’t mind the trail but not behind our property.”

Brown said that while crimes of opportunity do happen, parks and recreation have actually been shown to decrease the number of incidents.

“Studies have proven otherwise,” he said. “It provides more awareness. Trail users are pretty vigilant.”

Besides, he said, the trail is not meant to be a destination. It’s a transportation network. The first phase of the project ends at Preston Road but in the meantime, it won’t be just a dead end, said Lee Kleinman, Dallas Parks and Recreation board member for District 11.

The plan includes a large plaza and since the city recently put in new sidewalks, there will be easy access to the shopping centers at Royal and Forest.

The city hasn’t even broken ground on the Northaven Trail, but the project already has a support group of about 200 people, making sure issues are addressed early. While the city provides basic infrastructure, the Friends of the Northaven Trail, which began forming in February, will lead beautification efforts like landscaping and benches.

“We’re getting a little smarter at how we’re putting trail systems in,” said

Oh, and no, the trail will not include a dog park – ever.