Peck Education Trail project

The Children’s Memorial Garden and monument honoring children killed in the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City will be relocated to the Peck Education Trail at Noble Park, in addition to 19 new dogwoods, according to the city.

A late Paducah man’s generous donation will offer new rewards with the planned creation of the Peck Education Trail at Noble Park.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Paducah City Commission approved a municipal order for a $242,690 contract with Youngblood Excavating & Contracting, regarding the trail project. It will extend an existing nature trail behind the Noble Park amphitheater, cross a drainage area with a boardwalk and stretch toward the park entrance off Cairo Road, according to the city.

“This project here is actually 100% funded through a trust of a local citizen,” City Manager Jim Arndt told The Sun.

He described it as a “wonderful, diverse” addition to Noble Park.

“We’re so appreciative of that donation,” Arndt said. “It’s just amazing what they’ve done for the community for years and years to come.”

As Arndt mentioned, the Peck Education Trail project is funded by the estate of J. Lane Peck through the Community Foundation of West Kentucky. Peck died in December 2016 at age 95.

Kevin Peck, a great-nephew of Peck, told The Sun his late uncle set aside funds years ago to allow for general upkeep of the grounds surrounding a monument to his late wife, Martha Jane Phipps Peck. His uncle had donated many acres added to the park — known as the Peck Addition.

He said his uncle later decided to redirect funds toward the establishment of a nature discovery trail, in part of his love for Paducah, its parks and his desire to aid in the education of youth.

“He would be very excited to see this project come to fruition,” Kevin Peck said.

“He would, however, be equally displeased to receive any attention or accolades from it. In fact, if he were alive and I called him to get a quote for the paper, he would quite abruptly say, ‘No, thank you. Come see sometime,’ and hang up before I said another word. That’s just how he was.”

The Peck Education Trail will be more than a half mile in length, according to the city.

There will be “educational interpretive signage” that describes the fauna, inhabitants and interactions in the local environment, explained assistant Parks and Recreation director Amie Clark and director Mark Thompson in an email to The Sun.

Educators and families will be able to use it as an outdoor classroom.

“Parks and Recreation works to improve our facilities and this is another improvement,” they stated.

“The section of Noble Park that this trail will be constructed isn’t currently used and will provide another nature trail connection in the park. We are also working with BFW (Bacon Farmer Workman) to provide markers for tree identification throughout the trail.”

They also shared that its final meeting for approval by Peck was in December 2016, shortly before he died, and called it an honor to receive his support and blessing on the project.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive this gift and create a benefit that will be used for years to come,” they stated. “We are proud to be a part of Mr. Peck’s vision. Of course, we are excited.”

There also will be parking areas added off Noble Park Trace, which is a road that enters the park from Cairo Road, according to the city. A Children’s Memorial Garden — located near the park’s tennis courts — that honors children killed in the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building will be relocated to the trail, along with 19 new dogwoods.

The city’s in the process of awarding the project’s bid and getting an agreement in place with the contractor. The project has a timeline of 90 days to completion, once construction starts.

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