Village seeking DNR grant to complete West Main Avenue Trail
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – The village board approved a resolution Tuesday, April 28, to apply for a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to complete a multi-use trail along the south side of West Main Avenue.
The proposed trail section would run west of Interstate 41 from the western-most roundabout in De Pere to Sand Acres Drive in Ashwaubenon.
With the project estimated to cost $1.5 million without any aid, Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Rex Mehlberg said village staff is submitting grant applications in hopes of defraying project costs.
What we are doing is telling the DNR, really in theory, that we’ll be able to figure out a way to fund this project,” he said. “If we say that and then we decide not to do it, we aren’t going to be getting any DNR grants ever in the future.”
Mehlberg said the trail project includes utility relocation, easement purchase, a box culvert installation, 400 feet of retaining wall at the top of a hill and a 150-foot creek crossing.
Last November, the board approved submitting a grant application for the project to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, which if awarded would commit the village to paying 10 percent of expenses eligible to be covered under the grant, plus right-of-way purchases and utility relocation costs.
Mehlberg said the village is working with McMahon and Associates on the possible purchase of right-of-way 2-3 feet wide, which he estimates would cost approximately $10,000 to $12,000.
“We’re kind of in a Catch 22 on that in terms of what direction to go right now…,” he said. “But we can’t buy any right-of-way unless we know whether or not we get the (DOT) grant, because of specific right-of-way acquisition processes that the feds have.”
Without having acquired right-of-way for the trail, Mehlberg said the village is less likely to be awarded a DNR grant for recreational trails and stewardship.
“I’d like to submit (a DNR grant application) this year just so that, from the selection committee, that project is in their minds,” he said. “Whether we get it this year, great, but if we don’t get it, if we wind up needing to apply for it next year, it’s already in their minds. It’s not something brand new that is coming across the desk the first time.”
Mehlberg said village funding is available for the project through Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) District No. 4.
“The dollars are there, but we’d rather not expend the full amount of money out of TIF, and we want to see what we can get from all these funding opportunities elsewhere as well,” he said.
Mehlberg said both DOT and DNR grant recipients will be announced in late summer/early fall.
In the event the village wouldn’t receive grant funding, he said he would be coming back to the board to find out whether it would still want to proceed with the project.