Madison Greenspace Commission on the trail
By Stephanie Johns
Discussion about a proposed trail in Madison dominated the last meeting of the Madison Greenspace Commission (GSC).
City Planning Director Monica Callahan said that the GSC already had done much of the pre-planning for the trail when it created its Parks-Greenspace-Greenway Conceptual Plan to connect the city’s parks by 2017.
GSC member Chris Lambert shared information she had gathered while visiting with Cheryl Delk, the special projects coordinator for Newton County.
Lambert said Delk spent six years working on the trails project in Newton County beginning with pre-planning, then a major push in Dec. 2009, followed by gaining rights of way, raising funds and garnering community support for the trails.
Lambert noted that the trail would be good for a variety of people: moms with strollers, bikers, walkers, and people with dogs.
The city could benefit from the trail as well if they choose to use it as a utility corridor. Newton County is using their new trail project to run fiber optic line and portions of their new water lines.
Not only that, the trail could be used to highlight the historic buildings along the railroad.
Regarding the surface of the trail, Callahan said that she had learned joggers prefer asphalt as the trail surface, but modern running shoes make running on concrete OK. She added that asphalt tends to break up faster while concrete tends to last longer.
As to the width of the trail, Callahan said that 12 feet makes more sense than 10 feet because they would be able to use standard road equipment to place and maintain the trail surface without having to spend money on completely new equipment for a trail 10 feet wide.
Lambert shared that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would place certain responsibilities on the City of Madison as they create this trail.
Callahan said that the City of Madison will sign a long-term ADA plan that will require the city to make every facility, from sidewalks to streets, compliant with ADA guidelines.
She clarified that the GSC may have portions of the trail system that are not ADA compliant but that the facility has to be ADA compliant.
“If you only have one trail and it only has one leg, the leg has to be fully ADA,” she said. “If you have a portion of it, if you have two legs and one leg is not ADA and the other leg is ADA, that’s OK.”
The city has until Oct. 24 to put its ADA plan in place for every city facility, every city sidewalk, every city street. The plan will require that all new buildings must be fully compliant. As the city has the funds it must have a plan in place to bring non-compliant buildings into compliance with ADA guidelines.
GSC talked about having guest speakers such as Delk share insights about trail projects with them.
“We need experienced people who’ve built trails, who know what the bugaboos are, who’ve repaired them, who’ve worked for cities that are fixing them and are building them now,” she said.
The next step would be for the GSC to host a formal presentation about trails in general and have maps for the public to look at following the presentation. Participants could then share their suggestions and provide input as to their vision of the trail.
Callahan said that these “listening sessions” tend to bring out lots of positive people.
An outside consultant could then be brought in. The GSC could do much of the mapping itself and provide some of the write-ups that would accompany their proposal.
The Trails Committee agreed to meet the first week in October to work out the details of the GSC’s trail project.
In other news, GSC’s “Plant a Tree” program made the cover of the city’s newsletter. Plantings include black gum, swamp chestnut oak, evergreen sweetbay magnolia, and an autumn flowering cherry.
An anonymous benefactor has pledged to match donations to the Ricketts tree-planting fund dollar for dollar up to a total of $1,000. Callahan said that they will once again insert a donation request form in the utility bills.
GSC hopes to hold the Washington Park playground Design Day at either CrossRoads School or the church on Washington Street. The Build Day for the playground was set for June 1. Over the summer GSC applied for and received a $15,000 Let’s Play Community Construction Grant to purchase playground equipment for the park.
An online fundraiser has been established with the goal of raising $5,000 to subsidize the Washington Park improvements, which will include parking, a practice soccer field and the playground.
Suggestions for GSC’s annual fall event include an ice cream social or a hot dog roast with a bonfire on Oct. 25. Details will be forthcoming.
Printed in the October 4, 2012 edition.