WASHINGTON – The city of Washington has received $100,000 to pave a portion of a trail connecting the Wellness Park Trail with the Kewash Trail.
The grant will come from the Wellmark Foundation. The city will fund the other $150,000 necessary to complete the project. The portion of the trail the grant covers starts at the Kewash Trail near West Fifth Street and will go north by the new YMCA under construction and to the wellness park, also under construction.
The new Y is on property once belonging to the city and which the city gave to the Y to develop. Hinson said this trail connection will be paved over top of a gravel road connecting the Y to the new water tower built in 2015. After the city built the gravel road, the plans for the Y changed. The Y’s new orientation will have its back to Fifth Street as opposed to facing Fifth Street, and will face Sixth Street instead. Traffic entering the Y will come off D Avenue and Seventh Street.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said it made more sense to have traffic enter the Y from D Avenue instead of Fifth Street because Fifth Street has a higher speed limit.
“It also made more sense for the wellness park not to pave a road from Fifth Street all the way to Seventh,” he said. “We realized we could get better access [to the Y] for less money.”
Since the planned gravel road will no longer be necessary for city maintenance crews, the city will turn it into a paved trail. The trail connection the grant is paying for will be more than 0.5 miles long and 10 feet wide.
The city has made great strides in recent years in preparing the west edge of town to host a wellness park. It poured $1 million into a new and deep sanitary gravity sewer for the northwest part of town. The city added a 12-inch water line, which is considered large, in that area, too. It also paid for the area north of Fifth Street to be graded.
“It’s a great site but not a cheap site,” said Hinson. “We did a lot of grading and utilities work to create a place where the ballfields could be built with only a little bit of finish grade. We’ve still got a couple million more dollars to spend. We’re developing 40 acres, and there are another 30-some acres yet to develop.”
The wellness park will include four ballfields, two soccer fields, restrooms, a concession stand, a parking lot, and possibly a playground. The playground is not funded, though Hinson said volunteer groups are contemplating a fundraiser to build one.
“It’s a very ambitious project, and it’s really cool when you go to the site and see that when this project gets done, it’s going to feed development in the area for the next 50 years,” Hinson said.
Hinson said the long-term goal for the wellness park is to have a trail around its perimeter.
The $250,000 project to connect the wellness park to the Kewash Trail will be included in the larger bid package for the field development project. Hinson hopes all the funds can be secured this year, be ready to bid in the late winter, and start construction in the spring.
How soon will the fields be ready? Hinson said it depends on how well the turf grass grows. It could be ready by as early as fall 2020, and if not, then at least by 2021.
According to the letter the city of Washington received from the Wellmark Foundation, the city has until Dec. 31, 2021 to complete the project for which it has been granted $100,000.
“We are delighted in the work you are doing in Iowa to create an environment which encourages physical activity for all,” read the letter from the Wellmark Foundation. “We look forward to the impact this project will have on generations to come.”