Finding the right path

WC man concerned about new trail head at West Kamen Drive

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Webster City resident Todd Lovelace is pictured above near the Beach Street pedestrian bridge.

A soon-to-be constructed trail in the Brewer Creek Estates 5th Addition was met by opposition from a Webster City resident.

Todd Lovelace is concerned about the construction of a trail head in the Brewer Creek Estates. He shared those concerns at the Aug. 21 City Council meeting.

The council approved moving forward with paving the first portion of the trail at their bi-weekly meeting on Aug. 21.

The trail from West Kamen Drive to the parking lot off of Beach Street is an estimated 1100 feet in length. The first 550 feet, from West Kamen Drive to the pedestrian bridge at Beach Street, will be paved this fall. Webster City City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez estimates the project will begin mid-September at the earliest and should take approximately two weeks to complete.

“The logic was trying to make sure that as we build out five and six that we also built in a trial head to accommodate this other portion of Brewer Creek and allow for residents in that subdivision to have another access point,” said Ortiz-Hernandez.

“The fact that nobody came here and looked at the location prior to voting on it kinda made me upset,” Lovelace said. “I just don’t agree with the rushing to get this thing done just because we’ve got construction crews out here. That makes no sense to me.”

Lovelace, who resides at 1203 West Kamen Dr., cited safety, proximity and privacy concerns for his family. The trail will run adjacent to Lovelace’s property but will be constructed on city property that borders Lovelace’s backyard.

“The council will be going ahead with their original plan to construct the proposed trailhead.

“It’s frustrating for me. For one, I’m the only homeowner, the only house on West Kamen Drive that this affects,” said Lovelace. “Just the fact that the city didn’t notify me that this was happening was kind of the first burn.”

“Being that there were no plans in place for building out anything further that five and six, the logic was that we would build a trail head on the ground adjacent to Mr. Lovelace,” Ortiz-Hernandez said. “Being that we can incorporate the trail head before any residential homes are built as well as the city owns the land behind his home already due to utilities that are placed behind his home.”

“I believe a better solution would be tying in a sidewalk from the boulevard off of Fairmeadow Drive,” Lovelace said. “I think there’s enough frontage that gets the sidewalk away from the highway.”

“I’ve noticed that the sidewalk coming down to the south on Beach Street is only a few paces off the street, yet there is no concern of that,” said Lovelace, so I really don’t feel like it’s a safety concern. Because like I said, there’s enough room to put that in to keep people out of harm’s way.”

Lovelace also expressed concern with the time in which the full trail would be completed and the financial toll it would take to complete the trail.

According to Ortiz-Hernandez, the first segment of the trail head will cost approximately $77,000, which was factored into a change order with the Brewer Creek 5th and 6th Additions construction and infrastructure costs.

“The segment from West Kamen Drive to the bridge on Beach Street, that amount is factored into the cost of infrastructure and construction for Brewer Creek Five and Six,” Ortiz-Hernandez said. “Which will then be spread out across the lots that will eventually be sold.”

“The city rushing into this project without knowing how many lots might sell, I just think we’re rushing into it,” said Lovelace. “The other thing that troubles me is that the City Council talked about getting the trail in before people bought these lots. Because they didn’t want people to buy them and then put the trail up.”

“We’re going through determining lot prices as well as the tax increment financing aspect of the project so that we can recoup part of the cost from the loss of the sale, but also make the lot prices reasonable and lucrative enough that people want to buy and build on them,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “The remaining portion that isn’t collected from lot sales will be recovered with tax increment financing.”

“From the comments and concerns that I heard either at the City Council meeting that I attended or replies on Facebook, I and a lot of other people in town, think that the money could be spent in a lot better places than another trail head that connects to a trail where limited people are living right now,” said Lovelace.

“My family and I do not oppose the trail at all. We use the trail system. We walk out here all the time,” said Lovelace. “I just think there could have been different locations looked at.”

The city chose this path because it was a more direct route.

“Being that we already own the ground, it wasn’t going to take away a significant amount of property from the existing lots,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “We did take away about 20 feet from two residential lots, but those lots are still able to accommodate a home.”

“We looked at Beach Street, but we didn’t want to navigate and lead people down Beach Street. Partly because of traffic but also because it would be a longer path for us to pave,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “Most people are going to take a shorter route and for people to have to walk clear around down to Fairmeadow and onto Beach Street was going to be a longer stretch.”

The first phase of the trail from Kamen Drive down to Beach Street was going to connect to the southern end. The northern portion is still in deliberation to try figure out the appropriate path we want to take, according to Ortiz-Hernandez.

The proposed route is the cheapest option for the city. The council talked about potentially putting up special barriers on Beach Street, where the second northern segment of the trail will be constructed later in the future, to lessen safety hazards.

“I’m just concerned about the dangerous situation that this first portion of the trail leads up to the bridge without connecting it to the Brewer Creek Trail or the parking lot,” said Lovelace. “It creates about a 200-yard or 300-yard void that you have to walk on the highway.”

The council will be discussing the future of the northern second segment at upcoming meetings.

“Right now we’re working through a path to get from the pedestrian bridge onto Brewer Creek itself and determine which route we want to go,” said Ortiz-Hernandez.

The city looked at three different route options and adhered to the advisement of the Parks and Recreation Commission. The three options were:

• Follow Beach Street parallel up to the parking lot

• Follow the curvature of the creek

• Make a path that lies between the first two options.

The city ultimately chose the last option.

“We wanted to get away from Beach Street so that it’s a much safer and more scenic route,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “Following the curvature of the creek was due to concerns of future erosion of the creek areas.”

Ortiz-Hernandez mentioned several possible courses of action the council could consider at upcoming council meetings about the completion of the future of the second segment of the trail.

“The next step for us would be to present the options to council for them to consider,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “Whether they would like us to pursue paving the entire path to the parking lot this fiscal year, or delay it until the next fiscal year so they can budget properly.”

Ortiz-Hernandez estimated the cost to complete the second segment of the trail from the Beach Street pedestrian bridge to the parking lot to be around $50-60,000.

Another possibility the council could consider is constructing a rough gravel-laden path for the northern segment until funds can be allotted for the next fiscal year. This would give residents the ability to utilize the trail up to the Brewer Creek Parking lot off of Beach Street.

“That would probably be the more desirable

option if the council if the council didn’t want to pave the second segment right now,” he said, adding that if the second segment is not completed this year, it will most likely be completed next year.

“I think one of the effects of Mr. Lovelace and the concerns that he raised, is now more attention has been given to the trail. Some of the feedback that the staff and some of the council has received has been more on the positive side with people more eager and interested in seeing that go through and another access point for them to walk on,” said Ortiz-Hernandez. “With that interest, I think there’s a greater desire to see that completed sooner rather than later.”

“If we wanted to pave it, we can use reserves to fund it or look to offset some of the project to a future date to allocate those funds,” said Ortiz-Hernandez.

— Map courtesy of the City of Webster City The proposed trail is shown in red in the upper left corner of the above map of the Brewer Creek Estates 5th and 6th additions.