Purchase would provide important bike link to Beloit

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Saturday, June 25, 2011
— The Janesville City Council on Monday night will consider paying $35,000 for a 1,880-foot strip of land to help complete a bicycle trail connection to Beloit.

Cost for the 4.3 acres south of Tripp Road is $45,000, but the Rock County Trail Coalition would donate $10,000 toward the purchase.

The property includes an abandoned railroad right-of-way with an elevated grade, crushed stone ballast and drainage ditches on both sides.

It completes a corridor from Tripp Road to Eau Claire Road.

Staff recommends the purchase.

"This makes a ton of sense," said Duane Cherek, manager of planning services. "It's an established corridor directly in line with an existing trail to the north and south."

The city owns a large chunk of land to the south, and the Hendricks family has offered trail easement across its land.

Beloit and Rock County are buying property and securing easement rights on the seven remaining miles south of Eau Claire Road to Beloit, according to a city memo.

"The trail, when completed, will have statewide and regional significance by providing a trail connection to Beloit and connecting to northern Illinois," Cherek said.

Landowner Mike Morris has offered to clear the vegetation along the trail with his equipment at no cost to the city, about a $5,000 donation. That would make the trail useable until money can be raised to surface it with asphalt.

Staff believes the city has a good chance of getting a grant to upgrade the surface if it owns the trail.

The city would use $25,800 from the Parkland Acquisition Fund to finance the purchase. The wastewater treatment plant paid that money when the utility expanded onto parkland. The remaining $9,200 would come from money borrowed for trails in 2010.

Council members Tom McDonald and George Brunner put the proposed purchase on the agenda.

Former councils twice declined to bring it out of closed session.

Cost might have been part of the reluctance, but a city appraisal put the value at $45,000. Brunner said it is only fair to stand by the appraisal.

The 4.3 acres is the best route to extend the trial, Brunner said. An alternative route on city land would cost $10,000 to $20,000 for trail preparation but would not be in line with the existing trail.

"One of the long-term goals, I think, of Beloit, Janesville and Rock County is to have that trail extension, and this provides an important link in that trail," Brunner said.

McDonald said he declined the purchase in previous years because Morris wanted the trail closed during hunting season.

Morris has removed that stipulation.

"This is very exciting for me personally and for all trail users," McDonald said.

McDonald rode in the recent Janesville Morning Rotary Pie Ride, and many participants talked of extending the trail to Beloit.

"I know it's exciting for a lot of biking enthusiasts and trail users," McDonald said.

Last updated: 5:34 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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