January 30, 2014

Construction could start as soon as April on the first stretches of what promises to be a comprehensive intra-city trails system in Carroll, 8- to 10-feet-wide asphalt paths connecting businesses and schools and neighbors for bicycles and people on foot, many of them even pushing strollers.

"We see trails really as the No. 1 activity," said Parks and Recreation Director Jack Wardell.

The capital-improvement plan at the center of budget work scheduled to begin in earnest next week contains $1.1 million in funding for trails from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2018. Developing trails has strong support among Carroll's elected officials, notably Mayor Adam Schweers and Councilwoman Carolyn Siemann, who have been vocal about the need for them.

Siemann has said she would like to see work begin as soon as possible on a trail running north on Main Street from Rolling Hills Park and the connection witth Sauk Rail Trail to downtown Carroll.

Landscape architects and planners from the West Des Moines-based Shive-Hattery firm estimate it would cost about $220,000 for such a trail to be developed. It would include removal of the 4-foot-wide sidewalks on that route and construction of a trail that likely would be combination of 8-feet and 10-feet wide, based on the properties it traverses.

"I'd like to get this into this budget," Siemann said.

Shive-Hattery and Carroll's elected officials also have been discussing an even longer trail, one in northeast Carroll. The trail would run north from U.S. 30 on Noble Avenue, cut west off road north of East 11th Street, run north up the eastern boundary of Northeast Park and east of Edgewood Drive and connect to the north side of 18th Street where it would run past Fairview Elementary School and connect with the trail running on the west side of Grant Road.

Shive-Hattery estimates construction cost of $830,000 for that trail.

Where trails replace sidewalks the city could amend its snow-clearing ordinance to relieve residents of the responsibility and add that to the duty of streets maintenance officials - which is what happens in Des Moines, said City Attorney David Bruner.

"Most of the landowners we have discussed this with are positive," Wardell said.

Siemann stressed that she wants to see the full Carroll city trail system developed off-road, where the trails with bikes and kids and walkers is separated from the street.

"I just think safety is really critical," Siemann said.

Longer term, Councilman Dr. Eric Jensen said he wants to see parking areas at trailheads included in the plan to improve access.

Wardell said the city will aggressively pursue state, federal and philanthropic grants and other funding for the Carroll trails.

Added Carroll Police Chief Jeff Cayler, "It's a great thing for the community."