Plans for New London area trails moving along
Implementation depends on DNR grants
By Scott Bellile
Planning for two separate trail projects in the New London area continues to progress.
One effort in New London involves extending the Newton Blackmour State Trail into Pfeifer Park.
Another initiative aims to construct a walking trail at Readfield Park in the town of Caledonia.
Organizers offered updates on both undertakings recently.
The New London Parks and Recreation Committee on Feb. 5 reviewed preliminary design plans for the Newton Blackmour extension.
Engineers with Ayres Associates Inc. of Ashwaubenon recently completed a 30-percent design review.
The 22-mile state trail begins at House Road in the town of Liberty, located 1 mile east of New London. The trail leads to Seymour.
In phase one, the proposed trail extension heads southwest of House Road and routes through the existing rail bed east of Granite Valley Forest Products’ rail spur. The trail crosses County Highway S and continues alongside the railroad before jutting north on London Lane, a short dead-end street.
For phase two, the path turns west off London Lane and continues on State Highway 54 and under the overpass. Then the trail follows River Road past the New London Jaycees Dog Park to the end of the street and beyond. Finally, south of the railroad, the trail crosses the Embarrass River via pedestrian bridge into the east side of Pfeifer Park.
Parks and recreation committee member Henrica Bult said she is eager for the bridge to be built between Pfeifer Park and River Road so she can quit driving her pet to the dog park.
“Man, I want to walk over that bridge with my dog to get to the dog park real bad,” Bult said. “That would be awesome.”
Combined, phases one and two could cost $1 million to execute, New London Public Services Director Chad Hoerth said.
To reduce that expense, Hoerth said he will apply for a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources grant this spring in hopes of securing funds for phase one of trail construction.
Hoerth applied for the DNR grant last year but was unsuccessful. The judges who ranked the grant applicants deducted points from New London because the city had another DNR grant active at the time for downtown river wall repairs, he said.
With the river wall project now completed, the city could have better odds of landing the grant this time, Hoerth said.
Committee member and First District Alderman John Faucher suggested Hoerth also apply for funding through the Marilynn Taylor estate’s new grant program.
Taylor, a former New London businesswoman, willed a multi-million-dollar estate gift to the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. The endowment is expected to offer New London area municipalities and organizations $250,000 per year for community improvements once it matures.
The New London School Board on Feb. 11 unanimously approved an agreement with the town of Caledonia to cosponsor the development of a walking trail.
The proposed half-mile-long, 8-foot-wide trail would circle Readfield Park and Readfield Elementary School.
The trail will be constructed in 2020 if the town obtains grant funding from the DNR.
Caledonia anticipates construction will cost approximately $40,000. The town intends for half that cost to be covered by grants and the remaining half by donations. No tax dollars would be used.
“This does not cost the district any money,” Joe Marquartdt, business services director for the School District of New London, told the school board. “It’s really a shared use of the property.”
The school district’s responsibility is to agree to allow part of the community trail to be constructed on school property. A district representative must also sign the grant applications.
Caledonia would handle the trail’s maintenance, which should be “minimal,” according to the memorandum of understanding the town and school district signed.
Friends of Readfield Park, a recently established nonprofit organization, is fundraising for the project.
Bill Abba, a Caledonia town supervisor, told the Press Star the friends group is halfway to its $20,000 fundraising goal. That includes $5,000 worth of material that local business Go Green Recycling committed to donating to the trail’s construction.
Like New London’s Newton Blackmour extension, creating Caledonia’s trail is contingent upon receiving the DNR grant. Abba said if the town is awarded the grant later this year, construction could begin in June 2020 and take six to eight weeks.
If the application is rejected, Abba said Caledonia will reapply until the town gets the grant.
Abba said Caledonia’s industries include has five quarries and a cooperative, all of which bring heavy truck traffic.
“Our roads are not particularly safe for bikers and walkers,” Abba said.
A trail in Readfield Park could provide residents an alternative setting to exercise safely, he said.
The Friends of Readfield Park are also working to develop two separate projects that would be in the vicinity of the trail: a $40,000 obstacle-course style playground addition, which would include adult fitness stations, and a $10,000 storage shed for recreational equipment.
To help the organization with its projects, donate online or keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities posted on the Friends of Readfield Park Facebook page.