BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST BURLINGTON – The GRHS-FMCH Community Health Foundation has donated $1.26 million in continuing support for Promoting Outdoor Recreational Trails (P.O.R.T.) of Fort Madison.
That comes on the heals of $1.6 million the foundation donated in 2019, bringing the total close to $3 million for the trail.
The GRHS-FMCH Community Health Foundation was created in 2018 as part of an agreement to provide funding for projects or initiatives that help improve the health of communities served by Great River Health System. Although the name of FMCH has been changed to Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center, the foundation’s name has not changed. It is not part of the Great River Health Foundation.
“We’re delighted to have partnered with the P.O.R.T. of Fort Madison project,” said Neal Dodd, foundation chairman. “These trails will be used and enjoyed by people from the entire Fort Madison area for years to come. This is another example of how our hospitals, now working as one, can reach beyond our campuses to positively impact the health and well-being of our communities.”
P.O.R.T. of Fort Madison is a subcommittee of the City of Fort Madison Parks & Recreation Department. The park system now has four trails totaling more than three miles.
The donation from the GRHS-FMCH Community Health Foundation consists of $769,260 in unrestricted funds that may be used for existing and future trail projects, as determined by the P.O.R.T. committee. The remaining $500,000 is restricted for the Rodeo Trail project signage, benches, and shade structures.
In 2019, the GRHS-FMCH Community Health Foundation donated $1,578,000 to P.O.R.T. for the construction of a trail connecting to Rodeo Park in Fort Madison.
“P.O.R.T. is excited to receive additional funding so the finishing touches can be provided for the Rodeo Connector trail,” said Larry Smith, chairman, P.O.R.T. of Fort Madison. “We are also looking forward to using the unrestricted funds to leverage future grants that will provide additional safe recreational opportunities for the residents of our community.”
Smith said he was surprised with the extent of the added infusion of funds.
“That’s goosebump money,” Smith said Wednesday.
“I had been having ongoing conversations with Neal Dodd regarding the overages we were seeing with the Avenue B bridge and other changes orders. We had kind of an agreement that they were going to make us whole there and backfill the coffers for what we overspent with the initial $1.6 million we’d gotten.
“But I was incredibly surprised by the $1.3 million for future development.”
He said the unrestricted $770,000 preliminarily may be used for local match money for future grants, but a long-range planning session has been set for this winter with Southeast Iowa Regional Planning on the future what the trail will look like.