Plan in progress for more bike/walking trails in Jefferson

A preliminary plan to connect the schools, parks and the Raccoon River Valley Trail in Jefferson was the topic of a meeting Tuesday with Zoey Mauck, an architecture design student at Iowa State University, and about 16 people representing various community groups.

Mauk’s plan, when it’s completed, will be available to use in future grant applications, according to Jefferson park and recreation director Vicky Lautner. At this time, there is no definite plan for implementation.

Zoey Mauk listens to ideas about connecting parks and schools with bike/walking trails

Mauk said the city has several assets – nice parks, the RRVT, public art, and interesting places. The city is walkable and friendly, she said.

There are also barriers – gravel paths in city parks, busy streets and intersections, limited bike racks, limited bike paths on streets, and a lot of poor quality pavement.

“There are a lot of great things going on in Jefferson. We just need to connect them,” she said.
Her suggestions included
• Creating more visible walkways and crossings to increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists
• Adding more bike racks, particularly decorative ones
• More seating, signage and playground equipment on trails
• More multi-use trails

She suggests creating a continuous loop that would connect all of Jefferson.

The plan includes a multi-use trail (similar to a sidewalk but wider) from Grauer Road to Greenewood Road, something that has been discussed over the years and recently. It would increase the safety and independence of residents of the Greenewood senior housing. The plan also includes a multi-use trail past Greene County Medical Center and Abundant Life Ministries. There was discussion of the best place to put a trail from the RRVT to Wild Rose Casino.

Chuck Offenburger, who has been involved with the RRVT for many years, noted that other Iowa cities like Charles City, Oskaloosa and Fairfield, have all built a loop trail that goes inside the town. “We’ve got the advantage of the Raccoon River Valley Trail. If you’ve got a trail that touches all the neighborhoods and the schools and the parks… the number of people who will be out every day walking and riding their bikes will mushroom,” he said. “As you watch development all of these things are being built in to communities today. What that means for us, as we’re trying to grow, redevelop, and position for the future, the people we’re after are going to have an expectation of some of that stuff. That becomes an essential community service to provide if we’re serious about attracting people.”

Mauk gathered input about what people see as the economic impact of the RRVT, events that could draw people from the RRVT, and future area of development.
She also heard topographical information about some of what she proposed. Her plan includes a riverside trail from Daubendiek Park to the Jefferson Community Golf Course, which is just about impassable, highly erodible, and flood prone. That loop will be taken out of her final plan.

Mauk will come back to Jefferson to review the plan in early November and then do a final presentation in late November.

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