Thursday, September 4, 2014

Celebrate North Texas Giving Day with us at the Katy Trail Ice House

September is a great month for the Katy Trail and not just because it promises for cooler temperatures.  September is packed full of member events and of course, North Texas Giving Day! Last year on North Texas Giving Day you blew our expectation way out of the water and helped us raise more than $34,000. We know we can do it again this year and we plan to celebrate big at the Katy Trail Ice House.

All donations made on North Texas Giving Day from 6am to midnight of $25 or more are partially matched so it’s the perfect opportunity to give – your dollars will go farther. In the past 5 years, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $60 million into our community; needless to say, we are thrilled to be part of this incredible event.

Help us celebrate by joining us at the Katy Trail Ice House from 5-7pm on September 18th. The event is open to non-members, but we do ask that attendees consider making a donation of $25 or more. Food and drink will be graciously provided by the Ice House. Donations can be made online that day or we can take them in person that evening at the event.

Help us keep the Katy Trail in great shape – we need your support!

Volunteer Spotlight: Billy Hartwell

Billy Hartwell first joined the Friends of the Katy Trail in 2009. Since then he has become an active volunteer serving on our Membership and Marketing Committee. He has donated his time and talent to the trail for years designing clever campaigns and signage for the Katy Trail. If you’ve ever noticed those fun safety signs along the trail reminding you about things like “Ah-Chihuahua, it’s hot - Hydrate yourself and your 4-legged friends frequently”, then you have seen his work.

Billy runs or bikes on the trail 4 times a week and feels passionate about giving back. “As a marketing guy I support the Trail because it's a great product. I love it!” says Hartwell. When he’s not on the trail he stays busy as the Managing Director at Agency Hartwell. We are so grateful for his support!

Snyder's Union Ramp Almost Complete

Construction is underway at Snyder’s Union to connect the Katy Trail to the wonderful neighboring outdoor space, Lee Park. The ramp will make it easier for our everyone to get across Turtle Creek and up on the trail, especially those on bikes, blades or skateboards. Construction began shortly after the spring groundbreaking ceremony and is set to be complete in early October.

The ramp is being made possible by a private donation from the Snyder family who has been long time donors to the Katy Trail. They are also responsible for funding Snyder’s Union, the trail’s largest plaza, and the ramp to connect to Lee Park below has always been part of their vision. We are thrilled that this is now coming to fruition and are extremely grateful to the Snyder family for this generous gift that benefits the entire community.

To date the construction has had little impact on the Katy Trail, but in the upcoming weeks the trail will be partially closed in that area. Trail users will still be able to get through, but there could be some congestion so please use caution in that area. Safety signs and flag men will be in place on the trail during this time. Please have patience with us as we work to complete the project and with other trail users while sharing the path.

Playing it Safe

We to do what we can to keep the Katy Trail a peaceful resource for our community to enjoy, but we need your help to keep it clean and safe. Two things that have come to the forefront lately are unattended children and over attended cats.

We don’t have anything against kids or cats, but they both have their place on the trail. If you bring children out on the trail, please keep a watchful eye on them. Too many times we have seen joggers and bikers dodging kids who have crossed over to their path. And it’s not just kids using the trail, the problem also occurs near the trail at plazas or restaurants nearby. If you stop to rest or grab a bite to eat, please make sure that your child knows to stay out of oncoming traffic. You wouldn't let your child play in the street, so please don’t let them play on the trail.

As for the cats, we have been working with Dallas Animal Services, Feral Friends Community Cat Alliance and local veterinarians on implementing a TNR (Trap Neuter Return) program. To date, more than 45 stray cats have been caught, spayed or neutered and then released back to the trail. With help from the community the population will reduce and become less of a nuisance. We are asking our neighbors along the trail to not feed the cats unless they have talked to our office. Food should never be placed on the trail or within 10 feet of the trail, and it should never be left to sit for hours. Cat food on the trail creates a hazard for trail users and attracts more cats and other unwanted animals. If you see anyone not cooperating, please direct them to our office. We can’t control the population unless everyone complies. We are extremely grateful for the Feral Friends Community Cat Alliance and their volunteers who have been working hard to manage the problem and funding the expense.

Thank you all for your cooperation. New signs have been placed on the Katy Trail this week in trouble spots to remind everyone to be good stewards of the trail. 

The Curse of the Katy 5K Continues

Keeping up with tradition, we got rain not once, but twice this year at the annual Michelob Ultra Katy 5K. For the first time in the run’s 16 year history the race was canceled due to severe weather on the original date in May. Both the Katy Picnic and race course had been set up, but shortly before race time the area was struck with tornado speed winds. After surveying the damage to find our start line destroyed, tents blown over and debris and flooding along the race course we knew the damage was beyond repair and we had to cancel the event to keep our participants and volunteers safe.

Fortunately we were able to reschedule and give everyone involved a second chance. Although the day started off with a bad case of déjà vu as the weather forecast showed severe storms and baseball size hail in the hours to come, the weather held off. Thousands of supporters showed on June 12th, to run the race and attend the party. Close to 50 area restaurants served food to our hungry runners and of course the Michelob Ultra was in full flow. The run is a local favorite with the race selling out for the past several years.

The Michelob Ultra Katy 5K is our largest fundraiser of the year helping us to reach our annual operating goal of $700,000. While we hoped to net $200,000 from the 5K, we came in just a few thousand shy due to the cost of setting up the event on both dates.  All-in-all we still chalk this year’s event up as a huge success thanks to our sponsors, participants, volunteers and 5K committee. Planning has already started for next year’s event and we look forward to see what Mother Nature throws at us next!

New Wheels on the Katy Trail

Friends of the Katy Trail was gifted some new wheels this summer and if you are on the Katy Trail during the week, then you've probably seen our Trail Manager, Bill Williams, at the helm! Earlier this year we received a call from an anonymous foundation asking about our current needs along the trail and together we decided that the best use of donated funds would be to replace our lemon of a golf cart.

The golf cart is a necessary tool for our staff. Especially for Williams who is on the trail Tuesday – Friday checking to make sure everything is in working order. With 3.5 miles of trail we are constantly undergoing maintenance on our sprinkler systems, lights in addition to removing graffiti and caring for the landscape. Williams isn't just our Trail Manager, he's quite the Katy Trail historian too. A Dallas native and longtime runner, Williams was running the trail when it was still a railroad so he’s seen it come a long way. He has a passion for the Katy Trail and he’s happy to share it so say hello next time you see him. He may even give you a ride.

Our list of needs is constantly growing. If you or your company would like to help out, please contact our office. We’d love to hear from you.