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Kenmare committee hopes to create walking and biking trails

Taking a walk around Kenmare is going to get easier and safer, if the Scenic Trail Committee has their way in designing and building a system of walking trails around town.

12/23/09 (Wed)

 

By Caroline Downs
 
Taking a walk around Kenmare is going to get easier and safer, if the Scenic Trail Committee has their way in designing and building a system of walking trails around town.
 
The committee, in conjunction with the city of Kenmare and engineer Ryan Ackerman of Ackerman-Estvold Engineering in Minot, has proposed a paved trails project that would extend throughout the community.
 
“We want to get people excited about a walking trail,” said Fay Froseth, spokesperson for the committee. “It’s something that’s needed. When the old high school track was torn up, people were sad about losing that. We need someplace to walk that is safe, where people can count miles, be out of the traffic, or use their strollers.”
 
First phase is Phase 0
Committee members Terry and Fay Froseth, Tim and Melissa Harris, and Arnold and Judy Jordan hope community residents won’t have to wait long to get out and take a safe walk.
 
They have proposed a Phase 0 for the project that would create a loop starting at the intersection of Ward County 2 and U.S. Highway 52, run south along 7th Avenue in front of the high school property, turn east along the ball diamonds, and then head northwest along the highway. The length of this portion of the trail is just short of a mile.
 
 A first step of the committee will be to meet with the Building Committee of the Kenmare School Board. Phase 0 would essentially encompass the high school grounds, entirely on school and city property.
 
When details have been worked out with the school board, the committee will attempt to raise the entire cost of Phase 0 with a combination of funds and donations from local entities and individuals.
 
The committee plans to solicit funds from the City Council, Park Board, School Board, Development Corporation, Fund-Itt, Vet’s Gaming, as well as other community groups.
 
“We’re not asking for any grant money to build that,” Froseth said about Phase 0. “Harris Construction will do the work on the first loop, and they gave us an estimate of $155,000. That’s outstanding!
 
“We’ve been told to expect to spend from $250,000 to $500,000 per mile for the rest of the trail, with grant money.”
 
Phase I could come in 2011
Phase I of the project would begin at the intersection of Ward County 2 and U.S. Highway 52, then follow the highway to the intersection with Central Avenue at the north edge of town. A loop would be created by continuing the path along Central Avenue south to an unused alley behind the Church of the Nazarene, then heading east to connect back to the trail just north of Pioneer Village.
 
The estimated cost for Phase 1 is $314,509.50, which includes fees for engineering.
 
The Scenic Trail Committee recently submitted a request to the North Dakota Transportation Enhancement Program for funds to help build that section of the proposed trail, at nearly four miles. The committee could receive up to $250,000 for the project, but the results won’t be announced until October 2010, too late for any work to be done until the following year.
 
Local funds will also have to be raised to match with the grant money.
 
“If we got any grant money, we would begin to work on it in 2011,” said Froseth.
 
Phase 2-
Safeway to School
Then there’s Phase 2, which would create a walking path to connect the elementary and high school buildings, with a loop around the elementary school property and the new fire hall. “There are no sidewalks on the back side of that school,” Froseth said, “and there is not a sidewalk up in [the high school area] for the kids to walk on.”
 
If the committee could secure enough funding, Phase 2 would also extend the path from the end of Phase 1 at the intersection of Central Avenue and U.S. Highway 52 out to the Kenmare Country Club. “And, eventually, we’ll go downtown with it and work with the city in creating a better sidewalk system heading downtown,” said Froseth.
 
Plans for the trail call for a 10-foot wide asphalt-paved path, with handicapped-, stroller- and bicycle-accessible cut-outs at every point of entry and signage to designate the walkway and remind users that motorized equipment like ATVs, dirt bikes and mopeds are prohibited.
 
The committee intends to apply for funds from the ND Transportation Enhancement Program each year, as well as the Safe Routes to Schools program and the St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation in Minot.
 
Project suggested
two years ago
The trails project started in Kenmare two years ago, when Kenmare city council member Todd Ankenbauer chaired a meeting of individuals interested in the idea. The old high school track where many people took daily walks was in the process of being demolished at the time, and several people attended the meeting to discuss formation of a trails system.
 
The city council had to place higher priority on other projects, including a new landfill and making necessary changes to Kenmare’s water supply, and the trails project was essentially ignored, even as Froseth continued to ask Ankenbauer about any progress being made. “He suggested I take it over last spring,” she said, laughing, “and our committee started at the end of September.”
 
The first grant application was submitted in mid-November, under the sponsorship of the Ward County Commissioners as required. Froseth noted the current committee formed quickly to get the initial planning and design work complete in time for the grant application deadline, but more input from community members will be welcome. “As this project proceeds, we are going to need more people to step up and be involved,” she said.
 
The committee is quick to list several benefits to the community, with uses for children, local residents, and tourists visiting the area. Froseth mentioned the advantages of the Phase 0 loop. “That would be a nice flat, level surface for the day care kids and the physical education classes to use,” she said, adding that the football and track athletes could also use the trail for training, rather than running on Ward County 2 or the city streets.
 
“We are such a sedentary society, and this is a way to promote healthy living,” she continued. “If this built, then people will go up and try it, and it becomes a habit. Using a new path might be incentive to start new, healthier lifestyle habits.”
 
The committee also believes the trail will be one more attractive feature of the community, connecting other features such as the schools, the swimming pool, Pioneer Village, the golf course, the downtown square, the parks around town, the motels, and several of the eating establishments. “People coming into or passing by town will see it,” said Froseth. “This is forward thinking that says, ‘We believe in our town so much, we’re creating new things for our people to use.’ This is something to do for the next step of our future.”
 
Donations welcome now
The committee has started seeking tax-deductible contributions for the Phase 0 portion of the project, which they hope to build completely with local funds. “We would gladly take a donation from anyone who believes this is a good project,” said Froseth.
 
Groups are welcome to hold fund-raisers for the walking trail, and are encouraged to contact Fay or Terry Froseth at 385-4502 or to stop by The Kenmare News office to discuss those plans.
 
The committee has hopes Phase 0 could be completed this coming spring or summer, without the use of any grant money.
 
If grant money comes through, the next phases would be constructed over the following summers, starting in 2011
 
“We’re looking at four to five years of walking trail construction,” Froseth said. “We need the community’s support. Unfortunately, that means monetary community support. But that way people can say ‘I helped make that possible.’ And they can take pride in it long after the project is over.”
 
The Scenic Trails Committee also plans to request assistance from Kenmare Veterans Club, the Kenmare Community Development Corporation, the Association of Commerce, the Kenmare school district, and the Fund-ITT committee.
 
Anyone with questions about the proposed walking trails or who wants to contribute to the project in any way should talk to Froseth. “If someone walks up with two dollars and says, ‘This is for the trail,’ I’ll take it!” she said. “I’m not turning anything away!”