BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – County officials approved what amounts to a hold harmless agreement with Fort Madison to move forward with the construction of concrete path from Fort Madison to Rodeo Park.
The document is a 28E agreement and gives the city construction rights over county right of way on 303rd Avenue just north of city limits in the Timberlane Drive area.
Under the agreement the city holds all responsibilities for construction, maintenance and liability of the trail. Lee County Supervisors approved the agreement 4-1 at Tuesday’s regular board meeting. Board Chairman Ron Fedler voted against the agreement.
Valerie Natoli, a resident on Timberlane Drive, has spoken out about the trail that is being built with a $1.5 million donation from the Great River Health System/Fort Madison Community Hospital Community Health Fund.
Natoli called the plans for the trail “arbitrary and capricious” and said no one has taken the elderly residents of areas affected by the construction, into consideration. Construction of the path would cross over the Timberline Drive exit onto 303rd Avenue.
“How are we going to get out safely? It’s coming out right across the road where we get out of our neighborhood,” Natoli said.
“Now, you’ve made it legal – not necessarily right – but legal. And I’d like to see something in writing indicating you’re going to get out of your driveway as safe as it was before. That’s our concern.”
Natoli had expressed concerns earlier that motorized equipment would be used on the trails since Fort Madison has an ATV/UTV allowance in city code.
Lee County Engineer Ben Hull said the agreement provides for pedestrians and bicycles only, so no ATVs or UTVs would be allowed on the path other than city maintenance equipment.
Natoli also expressed concerns about noxious weeds and keeping those down around the trail.
Lee County Conservation Director Nathan Unsworth said it would be no different than hiking on any other county trail and the county does what it can to mitigate those occurrences. The agreement does stipulate the city would be responsible for trimming of vegetation that interferes directly with the trail.
Ron Fedler said he was voting against the 28E because he had heard from several constituents who were against the project.
“The majority of the calls I got were not in favor of it and even though I think it’s great for Fort Madison, I must respect my constituents by voting no,” he said.
Fedler said he congratulated the GRHS on offering such an outstanding donation to the city and was concerned about people getting out and exercising, but he said he wished the project would have been kept within the city limits of Fort Madison.
The trail is completely within Fedler’s district. Supervisor Gary Folluo said he had a couple calls in support of the project and said he was happy the project was done without have to condemn any property.
“I’m glad this trail was designed without any condemnation. We work with the trails all over the county and in the four-county region through regional planning and many times there are condemnation issues,” Folluo said.
“I find it very hard to justify that for these projects.”
Bid letting on the work is set to be done in August. The foundation had a timeline restriction as part of the donation.