Water conservation

Local News: PlyWood Trail back before council (3/4/22)

LE MARS — The Town of Le Mars will apply for land and water conservation funds to help fund Phase 1b of the PlyWood Trail.

The PlyWood Trail Foundation proposed to the City of Mars to seek funding.

As the contracting authority for the construction of Phase 1, the City of Mars must be the applicant. Application is due March 15, 2022 at IDNR.

The request is for $125,000 out of the project cost estimate of $1,750,893.

The municipal administration has recommended that council approve the submission of the application.

PlyWood Trail executive committee member Leslie Bartholomew was on hand to explain the request.

“For this particular phase (Phase 1b), we are applying for the concrete that will connect Merrill and Le Mars, so this asks for your support for this particular application,” she said. “We got federal funding for the Phase 1b trails, so we have $300,000 for that. The intention is, with Le Mars Betterment dollars, to make that a reality as well.

She added that it will take two years before this can be completed.

Following the motion and second to approve the request, Clark Goodchild asked for more discussion.

“Have we ever bypassed NIPCO? ” He asked.

“Yeah, we’re going into the DOT grip,” Bartholomew said.

“OK, so the DOT has signed that we are going. We have signed documents that say we can bypass NIPCO,” Goodchild asked.

“Ah, no,” replied city administrator Jason Vacura. “They won’t until the final plans are approved.”

Bartholomew continued: “So we visited them, Clark, and discussed that we had enough room to go around, but we have to give them final plans. They don’t sign anything until we make the final plans. This is part of this phase 1b.

Mayor Rob Bixenman asked, “Have you ever seen them backtrack on something they said would work?”

Vacura said no to that. “I don’t think that will be a problem, Clark. They don’t seem to say it’s going to be a problem.

Goodchild then asked about a guardrail in the NIPCO area.

Vacura and Bartholomew both said “I don’t believe we can.”

Goodchild replied, “Not us, they.”

Vacura responded that he did not believe a guardrail could be installed due to DOT standards.

Goodchild then asked about the survey work and what was done.

“It’s all in a ditch, or a drainage ditch, quite frankly,” he said.

Bartholomew said backfilling and culverts will be required. “It’s all part of this funding.

Goodchild said he had been clear he was in favor of the trail to Merrill.

Work on the trailhead area in Merrill will be delayed due to a recent semi-accident, in which the semi-conductor struck a MidAmerican utility pole. Repairs need to be done by MidAmerican, which could push back the start date to April, Vacura explained.

The board unanimously approved the filing of the funding request.