A little over half-a-mile of Dyersville’s leg of the Heritage Trail could be relocated and paved if all goes as planned.
Julie Neebel, project engineer with IIW, said the city currently has an opportunity to apply for a $250,000 grant to fund this type of project, which could be awarded as soon as the end of April. Monday night, the Dyersville City Council unanimously agreed to endorse the proposal.
The project itself calls for relocating the western-most section of trail to the north side of Beltline Road, and paving the approximately 3,300 feet from the existing picnic pavilion near Heritage Printing down past Double L Group’s facility, to where the Heritage Trail officially begins.
“It’s currently between Beltline Road and the railroad tracks, and it’s not as maintained as the other portions of Heritage Trail,” Neebel said.
While it’s still much too early in the game to have to make accurate estimates, Neebel predicts this project could have up to a $650,000 price tag.
“There are a lot of ‘maybes,’ but I like to estimate the worst case when going after grants,” Neebel said.
Again stating the project isn’t near the final design stage, Neebel said she is assuming they will be able to fit a 12-foot-wide sidewalk within the existing right-of-way, which would either be paved with concrete or asphalt. The project would likely also include curb and gutter to keep water runoff from Beltline Road from spilling over the trail.
Additionally, specs call for an 85-foot by 30-foot paved eight-space parking lot, bike racks and a restroom facility. Given the proximity of existing infrastructure in the area, the restroom could be hooked up to city water and sewer.
After spending a decent amount of time in negotiation with the railroad, the council was finally able to move forward with the creation of a pedestrian crossing over the tracks on the east side of 136. This project is under contract for the 2020 construction season and will tie the city’s existing trail system into the Heritage Trail’s trailhead.
With the additional connectivity this project would provide, Michel and Neebel both feel there is a good chance of actually being awarded the grant.
And from a safety standpoint, Councilman Jim Gibbs, who is a frequent cyclist, said he’s observed a lot of people choosing to use the Beltline instead of the existing trail.
“With Lumber Specialties out there, there is a lot of truck traffic,” Gibbs said. “The trail on the south side is not fit to hardly walk on anymore because it’s just overgrown and there are a lot of tripping hazards. I think it’s a good move.”
Dyersville resident Mike Murphy, another cycling enthusiast, also asked the council to consider making an addition to the potential restroom facility.
“You should think about this location as an information center for the City of Dyersville — with the Field of Dreams, the Church, the museums, the downtown, the trail itself — it could be a tremendous addition,” Murphy said.
Michel said given the timing of other projects as well as the projected cost, should the city be awarded the grant, the project could begin in the fiscal year 2022/2023.
In other news, the council:
• Agreed to raise the salaries of Assistant Police Chief Austin Zuercher to $70,000 and Police Captain Molly Dupont to $67,600, effective July 1. Councilman Mike Oberbroeckling, who sits on the Public Safety Committee, said both raises represent an approximately $12,000 increase and were initiated due to the recent overall wage increases for the police department. Michel added that due to the pay scale increases, two new police hires are currently making more than their superiors.
“We don’t want management’s salary lower than the hourly rate,” Michel said. “We knew this was coming and think they are the right wages for the community. These jobs need to be sustainable in the long run and not a revolving door.”
The council also accepted the resignation of part-time officer Eric Maas, who has been with the department for two years.
• Heard from Parks and Rec Director Gavin Nadermann that registration numbers for baseball and softball are down, likely due to the sign-up date being almost a month earlier than it was last year. Because of this, he said he will hold off on starting the draft, as he anticipates there will be several late sign-ups.