Public invited to Friday, May 24, ceremony to open Veterans' Pathway

The newly finished Veterans’ Pathway will provide safe, wheelchair-accessible access for those wishing to travel between the VA Medical Center and into Flat Rock Park or even the Kerrville River Trail. The public is invited to a brief ribbon cutting event at 10 a.m. Friday, May 24, near the boat ramp area in Flat Rock Park, where the trailhead emerges. – Photo by Lisa Walter/Kerr County Public Relations

Kerr County leaders invite the community to attend a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, May 24, that will officially open the Veterans’ Pathway.

The recently completed sidewalk project provides pedestrian access from the Kerrville Veterans Administration Medical Center, 3500 Memorial Boulevard, across the improved intersection at TX-27, and then either down into the county-owned Flat Rock Park or along Riverside Drive for those going to the Kerrville River Trail.

The public is invited to the opening ceremony, which will be held near the Flat Rock Park boat ramp where the trail emerges from its winding, sun-dappled route through a grove of tall Hill Country trees.

Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly has confirmed he will speak at the brief ceremony. Also expected to provide remarks are other key players in the project, including former county commissioner Tom Moser and newly sworn in Kerrville Mayor Joe Herring Jr.

From idea to fruition

The Veterans’ Pathway was the brainchild of Tom Moser when he was the sitting Kerr County Commissioner for Precinct 2. Its development has blossomed over the past few years, with Moser’s involvement continuing even after he left office.

“As Pct. 2 county commissioner, I often visited Flat Rock Park and observed veterans from the VA hospital traversing, in their wheelchairs, the treacherous path to the park – including competing with automobiles on deeply rutted Tucker Lane, crossing Riverside Drive and no pedestrian pathway inside the park,” Moser said. “One day, I saw and spoke with a veteran fishing in the park after he had made the half-mile trip from the hospital. This confirmed for me the need for a Veterans’ Pathway.”

“On Nov. 26, 2019, Pct. 2 Commissioner Moser contacted City of Kerrville officials via email, indicating he had observed a veteran in a wheelchair make his way from the VA hospital to Flat Rock Park on uneven ground, noting that a sidewalk partly in the city and partly in the county was needed, and indicating he would fully support construction of a pathway for veterans,” said Kerr County Engineer Charlie Hastings.

Subsequently, Hastings’ engineering department would develop a concept plan that would later suggest the inclusion of a connection to the Kerrville River Trail using the old Legion Crossing bridge.

On Jan. 6, 2020, representatives from the Kerr County Commissioners’ Court, the City of Kerrville, the VA Medical Center, the Kerr County Veterans Service Office, the Veterans Service Office Advisory Committee and Hastings met to get the project rolling, Moser said.

“Over the next two years, funding sources, including philanthropic organizations, were pursued without success,” Moser said. In late 2021, appointed Kerr County Commissioner (Pct. 2) Beck Gipson started the process to seek funding via an American Rescue Plan grant.

Ultimately, the Kerr County Commissioners’ Court was able to obtain ARPA funds that would pay for the entire project, which totaled an estimated $370,000, Hastings confirmed, meaning no local taxpayer money was used to fund this new benefit. 

“In December 2023, four years after the initial VA Pathway project meeting and with funding secured, it was agreed by all parties that the project would proceed,” Moser said. “Thanks to the commitment by all participants, including three Pct. 2 county commissioners (Moser, Gipson and Rich Paces), the Veterans’ Pathway project will now be a reality.”

Maldonado’s Nursery & Landscape donated sidewalk easements to help route the project safely around its operations, TxDOT upgraded traffic signals and the pedestrian crossing signal hardware at the intersection crossing TX-27 and the VA Medical Center upgraded sidewalks internal to its campus, Hastings said.

Mendez Engineering designed the project, M&C Fonseca Construction Co., built it and the City of Kerrville conducted inspections throughout construction and has committed to maintaining all portions of the sidewalk and trail, except that contained within the county-owned Flat Rock Park.

“Mission Accomplished: As of May 24, veterans can safely explore and enjoy Flat Rock and fish along a mile of the Guadalupe River, and travel the entire Kerrville River Trail,” Moser said.