The Platteville Parks, Forestry and Recreation Committee voted unanimously Monday to recommend the creation of the Platteville Human Powered Trails-proposed trail in Knoll Wood Park.
The proposed trail is similar to a trail PHPT built in Mound View Park last year.
Unlike last year, however, the approval process for the trail is different, and some of the neighbors of the proposed trail oppose a trail near their homes.
The proposed trail would run to the east of Knollwood Way along the current paved trail, then run west and north of Hillcrest Circle and east of Highbury Circle, then loop back north west of Wisconsin 80/81 and behind West Business 151 restaurants and bars south of Rountree Branch.
PHPT proposes a trail of 2 to 3 feet in width, clearing up to 7 feet space if needed.
The park committee discussed the proposal at its March and April meetings, then held a walk-through in the area earlier this month.
“I think we’ve framed this question wrong all along,” said PHPT member Les Hollingsworth, saying the issue was not “go or no-go,” but “how can we find a way to make this work.
“Ideally, what we’d like to happen is to talk to neighbors as the trail goes past them … like to have them work with us and work this in.”
The committee recommended that the Common Council approve the trail with a minimum of 10 feet of space between the trail and home lot lines along the trail.
The council will get the last word on the trail. The Mound View trail was approved by the Parks Board, which was reconstituted as the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Committee. Committees are less autonomous than city boards or commissions.
The 11.87 acres of Knoll Wood Park was deeded to the city in 1977, and “dedicated to the public for park and drainage,” said city recreation coordinator Luke Peters.
“It is a city park; it’s not some neighborhood natural buffer,” said Tim Ingram, owner of Momentum Bikes and a member of PHPT. “It’s not in a backyard; it’s in a park.”
Two neighbors of the proposed trail were present to speak against the trail.
“Green space is going away and it’s becoming another recreation space,” said Hillcrest Circle resident Brian Everhart, who said the trail and walking path on the opposite side from the proposed trail “has taken some of the real estate away.”
Hillcrest Circle resident John Gile admitted “things are going to change, and it’s not my land,” but noted that houses on the existing trail were built after the trail was constructed, whereas the proposed trail would go past existing houses — “15 to 20 feet off the back of our yard,” he said.
“All the concerns we’ve heard are valid, but there’s also a ton of misinformation out there,” said Hollingsworth. “All the research says otherwise” about such misconceptions as harm to wildlife. “This is actually a really heavily studied area — recreation ecology.”
PHPT member Jessie Goodwin, a former UW–Platteville student–athlete, said she would “like to see the trail from the point of view of something close to campus.”
Ron Weier noted that the area of the proposed trail is public property, and “if not for the use of public property for the public, where can they go?”