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New London’s rail, trail options

The City Parks and Recreation Committee continued its discussion on plans for the Newton Blackmour state trail slated to arrive in New London later this year.

Committee members asked that a meeting with the Department of Natural Resources be arranged to discuss an area of wetlands in the city that the trail would need to cross and other trail options.

Mayor Gary Henke and City Administrator Kent Hager have a meeting with a local business on Monday to discuss the future use of a rail line that the city purchased in 2010.

If there is a use for the rail line, the city would develop the final leg of the trail alongside the rail at a potentially higher expense.

Park Director Chad Hoerth will work to arrange a meeting the DNR. Henke and Hager will report their findings regarding the future use of the rail back to the committee at next month’s meeting.

Committee gives vote of confidence to river association

Director Hoerth informed the parks committee that the future of the Wolf River Preservation Association (WRPA) may need a boost financially.

At its last meeting, the WRPA provided a report of the financial status of the Association.

Hoerth explained that currently our municipal “membership” dues for the association are $600 per year.

“All municipalities along the Wolf River in Waupaca County are members of the association,” said Hoerth. In the past, the city of Weyauwega (which does not have land physically touching the river) was a member. They have decided to pull out this year, thus reducing the budget for 2014.

Hoerth reported that expenses are rising for the association.

“The balance at the beginning of the year was $8,140.01,” said Hoerth. “They raised $5,092.84 in membership fees and donations. Expenses this year came to $10,061.29, leaving and ending balance of $3,171.56.”

This year expenses were up due to the purchase of new buoys of $4,645 (which is not done every year).

“Regardless, the treasurer for the association expressed his concern that over the past few years expenses have outweighed the revenue and before long reserves will be depleted,” said Hoerth.

The president of the group stated that in the future, the association may need to raise membership dues to offset rising expenses; otherwise, they may cease to exist. Hoerth reported that several community representatives voiced their opposition to raising membership dues.

He told the committee he recommended each representative bring the information back to their community board, or council to get their input on raising the fee vs. losing the benefits the association provides.

WRPA provides a river cleanup each year and is responsible for placing the navigation buoys in the river.

Hoerth said for the City of New London, the association pays for and maintains the three buoys at the Riverside Park Boat launch, and it allows the use of their pontoon for placing New London’s emergency slow-no-wake buoys within the city limits.

Mayor Gary Henke, “I think there is no question on it, the benefits they provide the area far outweigh the cost of the membership fee.”

Committee members unanimously agreed.

Hoerth was instructed to report to the association that New London would not oppose a membership fee increase in order to keep their services.

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