Ribbon cut for River Bend Trail
A ribbon cutting was held last Tuesday to officially open the newly completed section of the River Bend Trail. The biking/walking trail parallels the Wisconsin River and currently along the former railroad bed from the end of South Park Street to West Main Street near the Sixth Ward bridges. The plan for the trail is to ultimately connects Council Grounds State Park and the MARC to the downtown area.
The event included the unveiling of the temporary donor sign that will eventually be replaced by a permanent sign listing the initial donors who are to thank for this part of the trail.
The River District Development Foundation of Merrill recently purchased from Wisconsin Public Service a 2-acre parcel which will serve as a Rotary Park Trailhead and a large metal building to be refurbished just east of the Center Avenue bridge. Also purchased was 100 x 1,500 feet of river frontage from the Rotary Park area east to the Semco property for the trail.
Further to the east sits the former Anson-Gilkey property, 13 acres of which were donated by the D&L owners to the River District Development Foundation. This property has had demolition in progress since last year. The River Bend Trail will continue through this property from Kyes to Cooper streets.
A trail feasibility study is presently being completed by Clark-Dietz Engineering to ascertain the problems, possibilities and priorities on all these newly acquired properties for future trail development going east from the Center Avenue bridge.
Going to the west, Merrill Sand and Gravel recently completed building the trail from Genesee Street west across State Street up to Hwy. 64 at the Wisconsin River bridge near Cottage Street. Paving was also completed this summer on the trail area from the Prairie River Nicklaus Famiily bridge to the Public Service dam.
The Foundation is initiating a new fund drive to raise money required to complete the trail and add amenities to the existing River Bend Trail.
Several committee have been working to keep making progress in all areas of trail development and improvements. If you are interested in becoming involved in any way, call Sarah Williams at 715-577-2406. To make a donation, contact the Merrill Chamber at 715-536-9474.
The trail is open for biking and walking now. You can access it from the south end of Park Street on the east side or from the south end of Polk Street on the west side. The Thrivent Way Trail is a scenic walking loop off the paved area of the trail. New brochures with a map are available at several locations in Merrill or at the Chamber office. River Bend Trail t-shirts and hats are for sale at Johnson Gifts, First Street Coffee Station, Fresh Boutique and at the Chamber office.