BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison School district is giving a local group property to extend a current recreational trail on the northwest edge of town.
At Tuesday’s upcoming Fort Madison City Council meeting, the council will vote to approve a purchase for one dollar for an easement that will run along the southern edge of the school district’s current junior high campus.
The easement will connect with the Phase 1 easement obtained by the city from DuPont, which runs along the east side of the same property. When completed, Phase 2 will connect with 48th Street according to drawings provided to the city by Poepping, Stone, Bach & Associates of Keokuk.
Rachel Benda, chairperson for PORT (Promoting Outdoor Recreational Trails), said this is part of the legal portion of the processes for Phase 2.
“It’s a process that Larry Driscoll (FM Public Works Director) helps us with,” Benda said. “He helps us with getting all the easements and making sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. The Phase 2 land is all owned by the school district and the city has to own the property.”
Benda said the same process was handled when DuPont owned the first half of the trail on the east side of the school campus.
The PORT committee was also informed last week that they were awarded a Trees Forever grant through Alliant Energy’s Branching Out program of $10,000 for help in planting trees along the trail route. The grant is triggered by local in-kind donations to the project typically in the form of labor to plant the trees.
“We just received word that we received a $10,000 Trees Forever grant last week and we informed the committee this week. We hope to partner with the school and identify a teacher or teachers that will help us plant those. We have to use some in-kind labor as part of the grant award.”
She said the committee, which operates as a sub-committee of the Fort Madison Parks, Recreation and Docks board, has almost everything they need to start on Phase 2.
Phase 1 of the project, which connects Bluff Road – just east of the junior high campus – to Ivanhoe park is open and available for recreation enthusiasts. However some lighting for the trail is still being worked on. The committee is looking at using solar lighting for the trail or other energy efficient models.
“It’s been nothing but open arms from the community,” Benda said. “We started this project in January of 2014 and had the first phase ready for use by 2016 so that was pretty fast and we’re pretty proud of that.”
In addition to still working out the lighting, she said bidding will soon begin for fencing along the east side of the Phase 1 trail.
Total plans for the trail include Phase 1 which is almost complete; Phase 2 which is in the works and will connect the trail with the Baxter Sports Complex and then a third phase will take the trail west further to Fort Madison Community Hospital
A quick look at other agenda items for Tuesday’s meeting include:
• second reading (of three) for an ordinance changing the meeting time for City Council meetings from 7 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
• first reading (of three) to approve amending several chapters of the zoning code to update definitions of commercial vehicles on recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Committee.
• resolution authorizing accepting Phase 1 work on the Wastewater Treatment Plant raw pump station as complete.