The Webster County Conservation Board received an update on two major Webster County projects that are under way Tuesday evening during its regular meeting.
Matt Cosgrove, Webster County Conservation director, said the trail extension from Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex to John F. Kennedy Memorial Park is nearly complete, and that the trail is open for public use. The next step in the project is to secure additional funds to support the purchase and construction of signage along the trail.
Cosgrove said the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way is in the process of submitting an application for an Iowa Great Places grant. If named a recipient, the foundation would receive a portion of $1 million set aside as grant money for communities and counties with a Great Places designation. Webster County, along with Hamilton County, received the designation in 2010 for their work on constructing trails along the Des Moines and Boone rivers. The resolution to apply for the funds was approved by the Webster County Board of Supervisors Tuesday and the Fort Dodge City Council Monday.
"The Community Foundation will be the applicant for the grant," Cosgrove said. "They will match the funds with the 70/30 match."
If the foundation receives the funding, the construction and maintenance of the signage will be a collaborative effort between Webster and Hamilton counties and the city of Fort Dodge.
"Conservation will install the signs out in the county," said Cosgrove. "The city will install within the city limits and Hamilton County will have their own."
The signs, which will include 8-to-11-foot-tall displays featuring maps of the trail and landmarks and attractions along the way, will be placed at the trail head in Kennedy Park, in Snell-Crawford Park, and eventually along the riverfront trails, which are currently under construction.
Cosgrove said if they are not named a grant recipient, the signage project will still take place, just on a smaller scale over a longer period of time.
"If we are not approved as a recipient, we will go about it on our own as a smaller project," said Cosgrove. "The grant would be nice additional funds for the things we can't pay for up front."
Cosgrove also updated the board on plans to expand the Gypsum City Off-Highway Vehicle Park. Cosgrove, along with Park Ranger Darren Herzog, who oversees most OHV park operations, attended a conference in Montana recently where they received ideas for park development and necessary equipment.
"We are also drafting an agreement with the Forest Service that will bring a builder here in the late fall or next spring," said Cosgrove. "Once we finish the agreement we would be able to get estimates on the cost of the project. Things are really looking positive that we will be able to get a builder out here soon and get things done."
Cosgrove said plans for the campground at the OHV park are progressing well, and they are ready to move on to the next phase of campground plans by working on utilities.
"Thats the most expensive part," said Cosgrove. "We are working with MidAmerican to survey the area to see what it would take to provide electricity, and are looking at water and whether we will need to have our own well or if we could get city water or Xenia.
"There is some fine-tuning that needs to be done but we're going to keep moving ahead so we can get into the development phase," said Cosgrove. "The plans are moving full speed ahead."