Perry and Dawson are already showing the impact of having a fine new recreational trail coming through your town. Since the formal opening of an 8-mile portion of the Raccoon River Valley Trail through those towns, use of it is increasing every day. Perry is seeing bicycle commuters. New businesses are predicted to open in Dawson. “Trails here in Iowa are a tremendous asset,” speaker Lisa Hein said.
PERRY, Iowa, May 26, 2011 — It’s already becoming clear what great trail towns Dawson and Perry are going to become, especially once those communities are fully connected to the Raccoon River Valley Trail.
A new 8-mile portion of trail — stretching from Dawson east into Perry and then southeast to Forest Park — was officially opened here with ceremonies on May 14. And there have been more people walking, running and bicycling on the trail every day since.
The 10-foot-wide concrete trail is a wonderful, smooth surface; its right-of-way has fully mature trees for shade and shelter, and the trail goes right through the heart of downtown Perry and thus is immediately adjacent to the well-known Hotel Pattee. In Dawson, there is a renovated railroad depot now available for public functions, and on the east edge of town, there are new camping cabins available at Sportsman Park.
It also helps connect about six other miles of trail in the city of Perry, which extend to all the schools and parks in the town of about 8,000 people. On the west side of town, the new trail passes right behind Perry’s largest employer, Tyson Fresh Meats, so increasing numbers of people are expected to begin using the trails to commute to work. You can now actually get around Perry quicker by bicycle than you can by motor vehicle.
“During the evenings when my wife Tammy and I are riding the new section of trail, especially when it is warm, we see a good diverse mix of people using it,” said Mike Wallace, a Perry resident who is also Dallas County Conservation director and thus the trail manager in the county. “It feels good to see people using a facility that a lot of people worked hard to get constructed.”
Dawson, a town of about 150, has also had “lots of activity on the bike trail,” City Clerk Sherry James recently told Wallace. “I visited with some folks in the park last night and they really enjoy and appreciate the trail and think the ride from Perry to Dawson is just perfect. You have done a great job of having it mowed up and groomed beautifully. I really like the signage on the trail near the Dawson Depot. The city government is pleased with our efforts toward the progress. I really appreciate your time in assisting us with the funding opportunities. I’m hopeful we can help again in the future.”
During the ceremonies formally opening the new section of trail, emcee Chuck Offenburger, a member of the board of directors of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association, predicted “there’ll be a couple of new businesses opening in Dawson real soon, because that six mile ride over there from Perry will become a real favorite of a lot of people. Dawson is going to be a great place for an ice cream shop, little cafe or store of some kind.” And he said Perry, with all its amenities and services, “will become an important hub town on the RRVT.”
The trail connections on west from Dawson to Herndon, and southeast from Perry to Waukee, are scheduled for completion during 2012. Paving work has already started in the town of Minburn, and from Dallas Center to Waukee — and those portions will be open for public use this summer.
Lisa Hein, programming and planning director for the trail-building Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, said during the ceremonies that “trails here in Iowa are a tremendous asset. They really do help connect people to nature, to the outdoors, and to other communities.” She said she looks forward “to the time when we can connect this trail to the new High Trestle Trail in Woodward.”
The photos below here show some of the fun on grand opening day, which was chilly but still very festive.