Public invited to planning meeting

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


City and county officials have launched an effort to gather public opinion to assist them in determining the future management of the county?s public trail system.

The Washington County Conservation Board will host two public meetings in March; one at the Conservation Education Center at Marr Park on Thursday, March 15, and the second at the Kalona Public Library on Tuesday, March 20.

Both meetings will start at 6 p.m.

The meeting will include representatives from the cities of Washington, Kalona, Wellman and Riverside, county supervisors and officials from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

City and county officials have set a goal of replacing a 2007 master trails plan they say the county has outgrown.

Though dated now, that plan was a success, said Steve Anderson, Executive Director of the Washington County Conservation Board.

?Most of the projects in that plan have come to fruition. Those that didn?t were believed impractical,? he said.

One of the 2007 plan?s major achievements was the creation of the Marr Park to Ainsworth trail along Highway 92.

Anderson said a new master trails plan for the county would align current public preferences with its future operational and developmental plans for county parks.

?We want the public to tell us of their likes and dislikes of our current trails. That way, we can better balance our management of the trails with the public?s wants,? he said.

County and city officials maintain many trails in city and county parks. The Conservation Board, of itself, manages more than 25 miles of county trails. A new master trails plan is needed to ensure continued cooperation between city and local entities, officials say.

A consulting firm is leading the meetings. The Washington County Riverboat Foundation has assisted in the funding of the project.

The meetings are intended to coordinate trail development efforts by state, county, and local agencies. By pooling resources, information and expertise, each community or agency can operate more efficiently.

Additionally, synchronizing their efforts for larger projects increases the likelihood of receiving grants to accomplish their recreational goals.

Those unable to attend can participate by taking the survey on a website located at

Following the meetings, public comments will be compiled and included in the creation of a rough draft.

After further public review, the document would become the Washington County Master Trails Plan.