Trail Work Could Start Next Year
Anonymous donation and federal grant in hand, the City Council put the Southside Trail Extension project into gear by authorizing plans and specifications for the work on Monday. The project will build 1.2 miles of new trail and connect a number of existing trails to create a 2.7-mile link from Southbrook to Pioneer Park. It has a total cost of $375,000.
While that amount had initially made the project a non-starter, the city received an anonymous donation offer of $110,000 in January, and was also successful in securing a $240,000 grant through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program in May. That leaves just a $25,000 funding gap to proceed, which will be filled by fundraising efforts, further donations or city funds.
The grant funds will not be available until the state’s 2016-17 fiscal year, but the city has the option of building the trail extension next summer and using the grant funds to reimburse itself the following year. According to a project schedule included with the council’s information at the meeting, design work will take place over the remainder of 2015, bids can be opened in March and awarded in April, and construction can begin next May with a completion date of October.
The city will not need to acquire any land for the trail, as the route runs along existing rights-of-way. Council members briefly discussed options for covering the $240,000 grant amount before the funds are received in order to allow construction in 2015, but made no decisions on how that would be done. Options include short-term financing or floating the project against the general fund reserve.
City Administrator Kelly Hinnenkamp said the council will not need to make a firm decision on that matter until it decides to award a contract, and is not committed to the project until that point. In the meantime, the anonymous donation is sufficient to cover the engineering costs.
Hinnenkamp added that it is possible that pursuing both the Cherry Avenue reconstruction and the trail project next summer could lead to some cost savings if contractors already have equipment working in town and are participating in both projects.
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