With the approval of $150,000 in a funding pledge from the Platteville Common Council, the Platteville Community Arboretum is kicking off fundraising for the Moving Platteville Outdoors project.
The goals of Moving Platteville Outdoors are to encourage people to get outside and enjoy the natural environment; promote a healthy, active lifestyle; and improve the quality of life in the Platteville community by expanding and improving the Rountree Branch Recreational Trail.
The Rountree Branch Trail stretches from the UW–Platteville campus on the west to the Keystone Development and the future Platteville–Belmont Trail on the east, paralleling the Rountree Branch stream and Business 151 for most of its three-mile length.
The Moving Platteville Outdoors project will improve the Rountree Branch Trail by rerouting the trail around a set of stairs making it accessible to bikes, strollers, and the disabled; replacing a failing bridge; and constructing missing segments of trail to provide an off road connection to the Platteville Dog Park and the future Platteville–Belmont Trail, including moving an existing bridge to a new location; and paving and lighting the entire three-mile trail to provide a uniform, safe surface from Chestnut Street to the connection with the Platteville–Belmont Trail at Keystone Development.
Last year, after the city gave PCA a $50,000 challenge grant, PCA raised $102,000 to complete the bridge work and trail rerouting, and continue fundraising for paving and lighting the trail. Plans changed after talking with potential funders.
“After talks with grant specialists at various agencies and foundations, PCA realized that finding funding for lighting alone would be near impossible and that a larger project would likely be more attractive to funders,” said PCA director Gene Weber. PCA decided to hold off on completing the trail rerouting and bridge replacement so that they could use the $102,000 as leverage for additional grant funds.
The Platteville community has the opportunity to apply for grant funding for the trail improvements through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Stewardship Local Assistance Program. However, the DNR program can only fund 50 percent of the project costs. The other half of the project costs must come from sources other than the state government. The current cost estimate for the project is $1.2 million.
A Civil and Environmental Engineering Student Design team is working on finalizing the design, and updated cost estimates will be available in late April with actual costs being determined in a later bid process.
With the funds raised from the 3 for $100K projects and generous donations from Southwest Health Center and Platteville Development Group kick-starting the fundraising efforts, the PCA has raised almost $135,000 of the $600,000 needed. The city has allocated another $150,000 in matching funds.
“The use of park impact fees and TIF funding to help leverage additional funds is a wise investment for the city of Platteville,” said Common Council president Eileen Nickels. “Investing in bicycle and pedestrian paths is essential to making our community safer and more sustainable. This trail will attract families, businesses and tourists to our city.”
“I applaud the efforts of the Platteville Community Arboretum to work with the DNR on grant opportunities to improve the current trail system in Platteville,” said Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot. “People throughout the community are walking and biking for recreation, health and as an alternative to the automobile. Any effort to make these trails more accessible and user-friendly will enhance Platteville as a place to live, work and have fun.”
The city’s contribution and other donations leave $315,000 left to be raised. “This is a huge undertaking for our small organization and our rural community, but we have broad community support and a strong commitment to improving the health of our residents and the quality of life in our community,” said PCA President Robin Fatzinger.
While the PCA is spearheading this effort, the City of Platteville, Building Platteville, and the Platteville Community Fund are strong partners in the project. The PCA and its partners will be conducting fundraising on several fronts, foundation grants, corporate and organizational contributions, and individual donations.
“David Canny, the original visionary of the Rountree Branch Trail, was a small business owner who strongly advocated business involvement in the community,” said Building Platteville President Kathy Kopp. “He would be pleased if his vision of a completed trail was embraced by Platteville business owners.”
The Rountree Branch Trail improvements are expected to be completed at approximately the same time as the Platteville–Belmont Trail improvements are being completed in 2015.
Southwest Health donates: As part of its Heart of the Community initiative, Southwest Health of Platteville recently made a $5,000 contribution to the Moving Platteville Outdoors project to help light, pave, and provide trail enhancements to the Rountree Branch recreational trails.
“It is our vision to build a healthier southwest Wisconsin, and the PCA’s trail project is a vital part of making that a reality,” said Southwest Health CEO Dan Rohrbach. “Improving local access to community recreational resources like the PCA trail has been shown in many communities like ours around the country to provide important and wide-ranging health and wellness benefits, from reducing heart attacks to reducing health insurance costs.”
How to donate: Contributions of any amount can be mailed to the Platteville Community Arboretum, P.O. Box 302, Platteville, WI 53818. Donors are asked to include a note indicating funds are for the Moving Platteville Outdoors Project. Contributions to PCA are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.