Glenwood Trail Project Gets $200,000 Boost From Iowa Transportation Commission

The trails project includes replacement of this “scary bridge” linking Glenwood Lake Park to the Glenwood Recreation Complex.

A bridge similar to this one in Omaha will be placed over Keg Creek as part of the Glenwood Trail project.

The push for the creation and enhancement of a recreational trail system in Mills County got a big boost last week when the The Iowa Transportation Commission approved a $200,000 grant for a trail being proposed in Glenwood.

The Glenwood Trail was one of eight projects across the state awarded dollars from the ITC.

“This is a wonderful thing,” said Randy Romens, vice president of Mills County Trails, a volunteer organization that’s been promoting the creation of recreational trails in Mills County for over a decade. “This is going to help us move along.”

Romens credited the persistent efforts of Mills County Trails president Shawn Koehler in getting the grant approved.

“Shawn has been instrumental in all of this,” Romens said.

Koehler said Mills County Trails has applied for the grant several times to help fund construction of the proposed 3-mile trail that would link Glenwood Lake Park with Glenwood Community High School and the Glenwood Activities Complex. In its most recent application, Koehler said Mills County Trails applied for assistance in funding a specific stretch of the trail.

“The grant was focused on the park area to the baseball field area,” he said. “What  we’ve learned on some of these grants, kind of section off a piece that they know they’re contributing towards. We focused this one on trail development through the park.”

Over $1 million has now been raised or allocated for the trail in Glenwood, including grants Wellmark, REAP, Black Hills Energy and Golden Hills RC&D, according to Glenwood City Administrator Amber Farnan. The city of Glenwood, Mills County and Glenwood Community School District are also allocating dollars and resources to the project.

“Including local contributions, we’ve raised $1.15 million,” Koehler said. “What that includes is city, school, state and county funding. That does not include any in-kind donations, that’s cash.”

Construction of the trail is expected to begin in the first few months of 2023, starting with the replacement of the narrow green pedestrian bridge that links Glenwood Lake Park with the city recreational complex on the south side of Sharp Street and the installation of a bridge over Keg Creek that will link the proposed Glenwood Trailhead (former Glenwood Earth Lodge site) with the Glenwood Activities Complex.

Mills County Trails hopes to have Requests For Proposal (RFPs) go out by mid November.

“Once those go out, depending on who’s awarded the (construction) contract, ideally we’d see some work during the winter and throughout the spring,” Koehler said. “Bridge abutments will go in first. The scary bridge that goes to Field 1 where the T-ball fields are, that bridge will be removed. The bridge abutments will be placed first and then the placing of the bridges.

The “scary bridge” will be replaced with an 8-foot wide bridge made from a flatbed railcar.

Koehler cautioned that inflation has impacted the cost of the proposal so the project will continue to be an ongoing undertaking.

“Ideally, we have this whole project completely constructed and done, but it’s a large project. Don’t be surprised if we have to cut off a mile for now until we can come back to it. We don’t want to do that, but if we need to, we will,” he said. “The reality is we’re pushing hard because we have to have a safe route for kids to get to school. That’s the No. 1 priority, to get the kids off the shoulders of Sharp Street when they walk to the high school or middle school.”

Koehler noted that additional financial support is needed for the project and donations to Mills County Trails are tax-deductible.

The State Recreational Trails Program was created in 1988 with the purpose of developing and maintaining recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and non-motorized trail users. This funding is available to cities, counties, state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit organizations through an annual application-based program.

The Opinion-Tribune

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