As the Clarinda Community Trail Committee prepares to take the next step toward connecting the city, the committee members are pausing this week to commemorate an important milestone.
Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the grand opening of the initial phase of the community trail at City Park. However, due to lingering concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, committee co-chairperson Randy Pullen said the anniversary celebration would be held in conjunction with the Clarinda High School Homecoming in September.
The Clarinda Community Trail consists of one mile of concrete pathways that run through the park in the shape of a Figure 8. This provides users with two loops that each measure one-half mile as well as the overall one-mile course.
“The trail is made of level concrete. Not every neighborhood has sidewalks or safe sidewalks, so the trail provides a an accessible path for everyone to use whether they are walking, running, using a motorized wheelchair pushing a stroller, riding skateboards or riding bicycles,” committee co-chairperson Andrew Hoppmann said. “The response to the trail has been overwhelmingly positive. If you do down thee during the busy part of the day you will easily see seven to 10 people walking the trail.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 a.m. or 10 p.m., someone is walking the trail,” Pullen said. “I use the trail all the time and it definitely makes Clarinda better. My daughter comes down from West Des Moines and loves it. She has a trail behind our house, but it is not as nice as ours. Someday all of Clarinda will be connected and it’s going to be great.”
Joining Hoppmann and Pullen on the Clarinda Community Trail Committee are Elaine Armstrong, Rebecca Ascherl, Elaine Farwell, Beckie Finch, Pam Herzberg, Brenda Lisle, Gary McClarnon, Carson Riedel and Gretchen Sump.
“We have a really good group. We all have different ideas, but I don’t think we’ve had any disagreements,” Pullen said.
Since the original phase of the community trail was opened in 2016, several improvements have been added to the project. Lighting was installed along the trail to improve the safety of users walking at night and benches have been added at various points along the trail. The trail was also connected to the shelter house, playground and tennis court to meet Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements.
Users of the trail also have access to the restrooms located at City Park. As part of the Healthy Hometown Initiative, a Story Walk and a water bottle refill station have been installed the trail. The bottle refill station also features a water fountain and a pet fountain.
“Restrooms and water are things that are not available at other popular walking locations like the boulevard,” Hoppmann said.
Since the initial phase of the trail project has proven to be so popular, the committee has now turned its attention to raising money for the second portion of the trail. This phase will run along the south side of Washington Street from Sixth Street to 11th Street.
An eight-foot concrete sidewalk, like those included in the trail project, already extends from Washington Street to Main Street at 11th Street on the west side of Foster Manor. This would allow the third phase of the trail project to continue west along Main Street from 11th Street to 15th Street.
“Ultimately, the goal of our committee is to provide safe, accessible walking paths throughout the whole community. These paths would connect to the square, the library, Clarinda High School, Clarinda Middle School and even to Hy-Vee and that economic area,” Hoppmann said.
Although it took five years of planning to make the initial phase of the trail a reality, Hoppmann and Pullen believe the second phase will move much quicker. Pullen said the committee is currently pursuing grants and accepting donations for the second phase.
The Clarinda Community Trail Committee was already awarded a grant of $12,500 from the Page County Community Foundation and has submitted sever other requests. Some funds have also been held at Clarinda Foundation since the first phase of the trail was built.
“I have received comments from several people wishing they had donated. Now they have that chance,” Pullen said.
“Now that we have gone through the process, the committee knows what to expect and what grants are available,” Hoppmann said. “Some engineering work has already been done on the second phase, so once the funding is in place we could move quickly. If the funding is lined up, we’d like to start the construction this time next year.”
Since future phases of the trial project will run through several neighborhoods, the committee will need to work closely with local land owners. Hoppmann said the home owners along the second phase of the trail have voiced their support for the project.
As a result, Hoppmann said the trail as a wonderful way to unify the community physically and emotionally far into the future.
“I see a connected Clarinda as a positive for those who live here or might move here. Having a good network of trails connects you not only to the community, but to your neighbors because you are going to be walking past their homes,” Hoppmann said.
The committee has a Facebook page people may follow for updates on the project. Tax deductable donations, specifically designated for the trail project, may be sent to the Clarinda Foundation. Anyone with questions about the trail may contact either Clarinda City Hall or the Clarinda Lied Center.