There's national significance in latest $15,000 grant to our "connector"

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There's national significance in latest $15,000 grant to our "connector"


PERRY, Iowa, May 30, 2018 -- The 4-year-old "connector" project that is developing a trail to link our Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail is one of 10 major trail projects across America to receive financial grants from the Rails to Trails Conservancy's "Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund" in 2018.

RTC announced late last week that a $15,000 grant will be made to the Dallas County Conservation Board, which is directing the "connector" project.

Other Doppelt grants went to trail projects in eight other states.  One of those of special note here will help complete the "Greenwood Connector," an 8-mile trail linking the KATY Trail into Kansas City via the Rock Island Trail.  And that means the cross-state trail between the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas will be complete.

Mike Wallace, director of Dallas County Conservation, said the RTC Doppelt grant for the connector trail here comes at a great time.

“We are honored to be selected as one of the 10 recipients in the nation to be awarded the 2018 Rails to Trails Conservancy’s Doppelt Fund Grant," said Wallace. "This $15,000 grant  will allow us to acquire some of the last parcels needed for the project.  We would then continue with our construction as funds allow."

To date over 55 percent of the connector trail's estimated project costs of $5 million have been raised, Wallace said.

Construction of the first 1.56 miles of the connector trail is scheduled this summer. 

That "Phase I Construction" will start in Perry at 18th Street and go east to 130th Street.

Wallace said pre-construction meetings with the trail-building contractor have been held, and actual paving should start in July.   Before that, Wallace added, there will be "clearing and grubbing, dirt work, then paving, in that order" on the right-of-way.

Additional construction phases will happen as additional funds are received.  If you would like to contribute toward this important project, go to: www.letsconnectdallascounty.com or contact the Dallas County Conservation Board at (515)465-3577.

The major donor for the RTC's Doppelt Fund said there is much work ahead in completing, networking and maintaining trails across the U.S.

“The projects that we were able to fund this year are incredible,” said Jeff Doppelt, a philanthropist from Great Neck, N.Y. “Through a relatively small investment, we’re able to complete and connect iconic trails and improve the trail user experience. Hundreds of these types of projects exist all over the country. It’s important that people begin to understand that the need far outweighs the funding available. These projects are essential to building and maintaining the trails that so many of us love and that communities rely upon for recreation, transportation and economic vitality.” 
 
Established in 2015, the Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund is a way to move forward critical projects that enhance health and transportation connectivity in their regions.

Eli Griffen, the RTC's manager of trail development resources, also manages the Doppelt Fund grant program.

“Trail managers commonly express frustration as they seek funding for projects that address important trail maintenance and development needs,” Griffen said. “These projects are often smaller in scope and scale, making them hard to finance within traditional funding streams. This grant program provides important resources communities need -- in some cases raising awareness of a project within the community, and in others, maintaining trails or providing the match funding necessary to acquire a corridor and build the trail.” 
 
The 2018 Doppelt Fund grantees mark the largest pool of RTC-funded projects to date, with more than $140,000 invested in 10 projects nationwide. The fund was bolstered by an additional $40,000 legacy gift from North Carolina Rail-Trails, Inc. and a $20,000 gift from an anonymous donor. 
 
The latest Doppelt Fund grant recipients include, in addition to the Dallas County Conservation Board, these:  
 
• City of Dayton (Ohio), receiving $15,000, which will serve as a federal funding match for the acquisition of a former rail corridor that will eventually be home to a new trail, The Flight Line.

• Friends of Clare County Parks & Recreation (Mich.), receiving $5,000 to increase support for an off-road alignment of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail through Clare.

• Idaho Panhandle National Forests, U.S. Forest Service, receiving $20,000 to resurface and reshape the slope of the Route of the Hiawatha through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel.

• Marin County Bicycle Coalition (Calif.), receiving $5,000 to promote efforts to convert the closed Alto rail tunnel into a crucial trail link through Marin County.

• Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority (Mo.), receiving $25,000 for the Greenwood Connector, which will help to build the final 8-mile trail segment to complete a statewide trail connecting St. Louis to Kansas City via the Katy and Rock Island Trails.

• Western New York Land Conservancy, Inc., receiving $10,000 to conduct a design competition to convert a former rail line in Buffalo into a trail and linear park.

• New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, receiving $7,500 to build support for the Ice & Iron Greenway, a future rail-trail through densely populated and underserved communities in North Jersey.

• Rutherford County Government (N.C.), receiving $30,000 for trail enhancements that will improve and encourage trail use, including the development of crosswalks and fencing; installation of educational kiosks and signs; and construction of wildlife viewing stations along an extension of the Thermal Belt Rail-Trail.

• Southwest Renewal Foundation of High Point, Inc. (N.C.), receiving $10,000 to increase capacity for the future Southwest High Point Greenway, including outreach expenses and matching funds for additional grants.