The River District Development Foundation of Merrill, in cooperation with the Merrill Board of Public Works, invites area residents to a public information open house Thursday, Aug. 22, to view maps and learn about a proposed temporary alternate route for the River Bend Trail of Merrill on city streets from Main Street to Grand Avenue to the MARC and Council Grounds State Park.
The open house will be held in the City Hall Council Chambers from 5-7 p.m. There will be a presentation about the proposal at 5:30 p.m. Maps of proposed routes for the temporary alternate route will be on display and Foundation members and city officials will be on hand to receive comments and answer questions.
The concept for a temporary alternate route originated during consultations between Foundation and City officials. If recommended by the Board of Public Works and adopted by the Common Council, the temporary alternate route would achieve outcomes that would support completion of The River Bend Trail.
There are several reasons for establishing the temporary alternate route:
• To make it possible for the community to realize a complete trail from Center Avenue to Council Grounds State Park in a shorter time frame
• To make it possible for State Park guests to walk or bicycle into the business district
The estimated potential number of pedestrian and bicycle trail users from the State Park is 20-30 a day. There are some 200,000 annual park visitors and campers. Park officials said campers often ask for bike route maps for the Merrill area.
They noted that area people bicycle to Council Grounds to ride the Park roads.
To provide safe legal public access
There is an agreement in place for access to and from Council Grounds State Park on trails through MARC to Grand Avenue.
Bicycles are legal vehicles on streets under state law.
The planning for the temporary route on streets could be applied to the bicycle route plan being developed by the Merrill Parks and Recreation Commission.
• To maximize the use and enjoyment of the trail segment constructed on CN rail bed purchased by the Foundation
Residents and Council Grounds guests would realize an enhanced experience by using the trail along the Wisconsin River from Main Street at Cottage. They would enjoy views to the natural areas along the river and have a safe and convenient method of transportation to and from areas of the central business district.
The segment of the trail constructed on rail bed can also be accessed from the following city streets: Polk along Stange, Prospect along Stange, Genesee and State.
• To use resources that exist to provide an accessible trail; the sidewalks, ramped curbs, city streets, and marked pedestrian cross walks are in place
The Foundation will fund the addition of signs to mark the temporary alternate route. The Foundation marketing committee is preparing a River Bend Trail logo for wayfinding signs to mark the trial and guide users along the route.
• To provide time to discuss with property owners possibilities for locating the trail along the river bank off the rail bed and onto private property from Main Street to Council Grounds
• To demonstrate to federal and state funders that the community is committed to a partnership with the Wisconsin Trails Network Plan (2003)