Finding the best route for a multi-use trail to connect the Fox Cities with High Cliff State Park will be explored in a master planning process thanks to a $100,000 grant from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region awarded to East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.
In mid-December, representatives of the Community Foundation and East Central invited a group of municipal, state and nonprofit officials to explore how many of the building blocks for the trail are already in place and the level of interest is in completing the connection. The Fox Cities Trail Summit held in February 2020 identified High Cliff as one of the region’s highest-priority trail needs.
“We found the connection is more complete than we expected,” said Kim Biedermann, Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator and Associate Planner at East Central. “There is so much interest and enthusiasm in making this connection happen, and we are grateful that the Nelson Fund is helping to bring us one step closer in making this connection a reality.”
Community Foundation President and CEO Curt Detjen said good trail networks are an important element of economic development because they offer improved quality of life to workers already here or considering moving to the Fox Valley.
“The level of collaboration we’re seeing among various government and nonprofit agencies on this project is quite impressive,” he said.
The Nelsons, who lived in De Pere, left an estate gift of more than $100 million to their charitable fund at the Community Foundation. The priorities they specified for the money include parks and recreation.
Among the most important questions the feasibility study will address include the safest way for trail users to cross Hwy. 10-114 and if building elevated boardwalks to avoid damaging wetlands along 114 is economically feasible
East Central will issue a request for proposals for firms interested in doing the study.