Jackson trail dedicated Saturday
JACKSON -- Dozens of people helped celebrate the dedication of Jackson's newest mile of trail Saturday noon as part of that community's Town and Country Days celebration.
The Springfield Parkway trail, consisting of 8-foot-wide paved concrete, connects with an already established trail near the town's Baptist church and follows Jackson County 14 almost to U.S. 71.
Lynn Anderson, secretary-treasurer of the Jackson Trails Committee, said Saturday's trail dedication marks the completion of seven trail projects that connect through the community and to a trio of county parks.
"We've worked on 10 miles now," she said, adding that the committee formed in 1999 to begin planning trails and applying for funds through the Area Transportation Partnership. Grant dollars, combined with city match requirements, helped fund each trail.
Dave DeJong, master of ceremonies for Saturday's trail dedication, said the completion of the Springfield Parkway Trail means there are now six miles of trail within the city limits. The trails are open for walking, running, bicycling and rollerblading, with motorized wheelchairs also allowed on the path.
"We have benches all along the trail," DeJong said.
The first trail to be completed with the committee's guidance was the Des Moines River Trail in 2005, followed by the Loon Lake Phase I trail a year later. That trail connected Brown Park and Robertson County Park.
In 2007, the Nelson Creek Trail was completed, with the Sunset Loop Trail finished in 2008 and the Loon Lake Phase II trail -- connecting Robertson County Park to MinneWaukon State Park in Iowa -- completed in 2009.
DeJong said he believes the Loon Lake Trail is the first cooperative trail project between Minnesota and Iowa.
The trails were expanded again in 2011 with the completion of the Ashley Street trail.
Now that the Springfield Parkway trail is complete, the committee has its sights set on one final trail project -- providing a paved, off-street surface connecting Springfield Parkway to Fort Belmont.
"Then we'll have the whole area done," Anderson said, adding that they hope to complete the last trail in 2015. When it's finished, Fort Belmont will serve as the trailhead.
"Down the road, we'd like to have a regional trail to get down to Spirit Lake," she added.
For now, Anderson is content to see the Springfield Parkway trail completed.
"I thought this was just silly that we didn't have a connection from the high school to Riverside along the Springfield Parkway," she said, adding that the "farm to market" road has not been safe with all of the foot traffic trying to share the street over the years.
"I'm very happy to see this," Anderson said.
JoAnn Asa, another trail committee member, said the newly finished trail segment is "awesome."
"It's going to be well-used," she said.
DeJong offered thanks to several individuals during the dedication ceremony, including Wilma Pell, who was instrumental in getting each of the trails completed. Though she now lives in Arizona, DeJong said she still calls committee members and encourages them to forge ahead with their work.
"It takes a whole community to do things," DeJong said. "The town and the county can be proud of the trails we've built."
"We've had a lot of fun over the years," added Pell. "It's good to see this many miles of trails."
After the ribbon was cut and the trail officially open to walkers, DeJong offered one parting thought, "Happy trails, 'til we meet again."
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.