A project more than three decades in the making came to fruition in Fort Dodge in 2012.
On Oct. 13, a ribbon-cutting was held for a recreational trail linking John F. Kennedy Memorial Park with the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex north of the city.
This was the second phase of the Fort Dodge-to-Kennedy project, which now links the city with Webster County's largest park via a 10-foot-wide concrete path adjacent to North 15th Street.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Friends of Webster County Conservation volunteer Jim Patton works on filling in some small washouts near the trail along Nelson Avenue near John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.
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.
But the vision of a Fort Dodge-to-Kennedy trail long predated the grant.
On Dec. 29, 1978, the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce's leisure committee announced an effort to get a recreational trail built between the city and the park. At the time, North 15th Street, then known as Iowa Highway 413, was being widened and resurfaced. The trail was envisioned by proponents as a logical extension of that project.
Though the first attempt at the project was ultimately unsuccessful, the proponents never gave up.
Currently, the trail ends at 20th Avenue North,
The trail plan calls for a connection with the Fort Dodge Nature Trail, which parallels Soldier Creek. The connection will be routed through the Orchard Glen subdivision.
"We're working on determining the route," said Randy Kuhlman, chairman of Webster County's Trails Advisory Board.
Trail construction is slated to continue in 2013.
According to Kuhlman, a trail running from Iowa Central Community College to the Des Moines River along Kenyon Road is scheduled for completion.
The trail will link with trails along the river near the former Sunkissed Meadows Golf Course.
The river trail project, for which construction began in 2012, includes a loop around the former golf course plus extensions to the north and south. Those extensions will go to First Street at the northern end and the base of the Union Pacific Railroad high bridge at the southern end.
The roughly two miles of trails were first envisioned in the city's 1999 riverfront plan.
They're now being built as a result of a partnership between the city government and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Each entity contributed about $1 million for the project.
In all, approximately five miles of trail are tentatively planned for construction in 2013.
In addition to the Kenyon Road trail, these include:
A one-mile trail along 10th Avenue North running from North 22nd Street to the Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center
A trail along Williams Drive and 20th Avenue North
A trail connecting North 22nd Street to the Soldier Creek Trail north of 25th Avenue North.
In addition to the trail construction, Fort Dodge and Webster County have invested in a Trail Signage Plan. The plan will provide consistent and seamless trail wayfinding throughout the system. Beginning in 2013, trail users will notice trail maps, signage, distance markers and directional signage throughout the trail system.
"When it's all said and done, you'll be able to go from Iowa Central all the way through town to Kennedy Park without having to ride on a street," Kuhlman said.