Consultants to determine if Franklin can build network of trails
City hopes to build trails without using taxpayer funds
Franklin - The city is awaiting the findings of a consultant to see if it can build a planned network of paved trails across about 70 acres in the northeast sector of the community without using taxpayer funds.
Named the Pleasant View/Victory Creek Trail Development, the project is fueled by two major grants, but needs approval from city officials to use impact fees to spare a financial burden on city taxpayers.
The two grants, $45,000 from the state's DNR Outdoor Recreation Aids Grant Agreement and $51,720 from the federal Stewardship - Acquisition and Development funds, would match half of the cost. The remaining funds would come from impact fees generated by residential commercial and industrial developments.
Waukesha-based consulting firm Ruekert-Mielke is in the process of determining if the impact fees can be used for such a specific project.
Mark Luberda, director of administration, said state statutes allow impact fees for specific plans such as the city's CORP, the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. Because the origin of trails project pre-dates the latest CORP, Luberda said the consultants are updating materials to pave the way for the use of the impact fees.
Luberda said he expects the consultant work to be completed in about two months with the findings to go to the Common Council for final approval.
Common Council members in February expressed concern about funding the project with taxpayer monies.
"We are hoping to be able to use those impact fees," planning manager Joel Dietl said. "We are very excited about the project because it will really help connect a number of different areas. One of the parts of this project that is really nice is that we have been wanting to put in a trail along Victory Creek and connect the Pleasant View Elementary School to the Victory Creek subdivision and then to 51st Street."
The envisioned trails would allow access from elementary school at the northwest corner of the planned area to Franklin High school at the southeast corner. Between those locations include Pleasant View Park and a large area of dedicated conservation land.
Officials said the trail would connect diverse terrain, from school grounds and dedicated recreation areas to local prairies and wetlands that are rarely experienced up close.
Dave Pautz, chairman of the Park Commission, said the trails would offer a different kind of experience.
"This will allow people to go anywhere they want to throughout that area without ever getting into a car," Pautz said.
Pautz said the trails include access to a number of current and future planned recreational venues for volleyball, tennis, baseball and traditional playground equipment.
"It's a pretty ambitious project," Pautz said. "We expect that it will eventually connect west with Cascade Creek Park and maybe even the Oak Creek Trail."
Pautz and John Michlig, chairman of the Franklin Complete Streets and Connectivity Committee, said the two panels will continue to look at linking all aspects of the city.
"In many suburbs - and Franklin falls into this category - sidewalks were considered a group of things, streets were considered another group and recreational trails were considered still another a group," Michlig said. "We need to look at all of this holistically so that all of those connections can be made."
Michlig said the city needs to continue to look at how sidewalks and other walkways can be more user friendly. He said his own family situation is a good example.
"We live right across the street from the high school where my daughter goes," he said. "She can walk there, but on certain days I still need to drive her that short distance. We need more walkways and better control of traffic with turning lanes and other things that will make walking easier and safer."
The city considers the trails project a two-phase effort with the paved trails, ideally completed by the end of summer, as the first step.
The second phase includes Pleasant View Park infrastructure that includes the construction of an initial 50-vehicle parking lot with an access road with either storm sewers with curbs and gutters or a natural shoulder and swale.
The city Engineering Department estimates that phase could cost approximately $224,000. No timeline has been set for that phase.
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