Local school and college officials and community members have collaborated in a grant process that could result in improvements to the walking and bicycling routes in Fennimore, especially those near or crossing the major highways around the city. The committee focusing on these efforts is seeking additional help from residents through a survey that will soon be available the city website.
Safe Routes to School is a program promoting exercise through walking and biking to school. In Fennimore, those activities can be rather difficult since the city is presented with a challenge unique to other communities its size: it has two major highways, 18 and 61, that run through the city.
Currently, the committee is working toward obtaining a Safe Routes to School state planning grant that could improve sidewalks, trails for walkers and bikers, and other areas that are not safe for alternative modes of transportation.
“Our goal is to connect the entire community,” Fennimore’s Superintendent of Schools Jamie Nutter said. “We would like to connect the elementary school to the high school by crossing Lincoln Avenue safely. Then we would like to connect the high school and swimming pool area to the ball parks. Right now there is no sidewalk on the north side of Highway 18 East. We have parts of our ideal route that are not really connected without having to cross major highways.”
Following the planning grant, an action grant is the next step. According to Tim Streitz, associate planner with the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, though the Safe Routes to School program focuses on schools and students, changes to local walking and biking routes could in turn benefit the entire community.
That is why local residents are being asked to fill out the survey by visiting www.fennimore.com between Nov. 14-21 and click on the Safe Routes to School link on the home page.
“People who fill out the survey will give us an idea of what the community, beyond just parents of students, would like to see,” Streitz said. “Anything we can pair with the needs of the students is something we’re willing to do to benefit the whole community.”