By JESSE HELLING
Messenger city editor
Dec. 29, 1978: The Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce's leisure committee announces an effort to get a recreational trail built between Fort Dodge and John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.
Laura Ludgate, center, gets a little help from Matt Jass, left, as they prepare to hold the ribbon Oct. 15, 2011, during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex for the recently completed 15th Street Trail. The paved trail runs from 20th Avenue North to the Sports Complex. Amy Bruno, executive director of the Fort Area Chamber of Commerce, prepares to hand over the gold scissors.
At the time, North 15th Street, then known as Iowa Highway 413, was being widened and resurfaced. With construction already under way in the area, the committee reasoned, the timing was just right.
"If we don't do it now, it will be extremely difficult to ever get it done," Pat Reed, chairman of the leisure committee, told The Messenger at the time.
Though the project was ultimately shelved at the time, proponents continued to push for the trail.
More than three decades of effort began to show tangible results in 2011.
On Oct. 15, 2011, the ribbon was cut on the first phase of the long-envisioned trail. A 10-foot-wide concrete path adjacent to North 15th Street now stretches approximately three miles to link the northern city limits of Fort Dodge with the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.
"This is truly a collaboration of the city, county and its citizens," said Randy Kuhlman, chairman of Webster County's Trails Advisory Board, who spoke during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The trail was funded in part by grant money from the Vision Iowa program.
In November 2010, a $1.2 million Vision Iowa grant was awarded by the state for the overall Fort Dodge and Webster County Trail Plan, which calls for approximately 14.5 miles of trails at an estimated cost of $6,766,000, to be paid for through federal, state, city, county and private sources.
The grant was contingent upon securing at least $400,000 from private donors - a goal that was met by April 2011.
The Fort Dodge-to-Kennedy trail is a major component of the plan.
In 2012, the second half of the trail is scheduled for completion. A connection between the new trail and the existing Soldier Creek Nature Trail through the Orchard Glen subdivision is also programmed for 2012.
Other trails slated for construction in 2012 include:
Meanwhile, a decade-long effort to build trails along the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge is also moving forward.
The project was advanced in December 2011 by the Fort Dodge City Council when it voted to approve an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for final design and construction of the trails.
The council also approved a $1,717,200 payment to the Corps of Engineers to cover the city's 50 percent share of the costs. Most of that money, about $1 million, will come from the city's riverfront trust account. The rest will come from an economic development revolving fund.
These trails will be constructed with the assistance of the Corps of Engineers:
Trails were included in the riverfront master plan developed in the late 1990s. In December 2004, the city entered an agreement with the Corps of Engineers to design and build them as part of the federal Des Moines River Greenbelt.
Contact Jesse Helling at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org