Watertown looking into trail grant funding options

The Watertown City Council has directed city staff to continue looking into grant opportunities to help pay for a potential trail that would connect the Luce Line Trail to the Riverpointe Development on the south side of town.

The council chose that trail segment from among a group of four that staff identified that would help fill in gaps in the city’s existing trail plan. The city council recently directed staff to look into grant funding opportunities to fill in some of those missing links.

Ultimately, the council opted to look further into what it is calling the “Landings Project,” a trail that would run along the east side of The Landings — near the Crow River — and provide a link to the Riverpointe area.

The project would also include the potential to stabilize riverbank in that area that is failing due to erosion. The project is estimated to cost between $220,000 and $300,000, which includes $90,000 for the bank stabilization portion.

The city is primarily hoping to target a grant from the DNR Local Trails Connections program, which offers grants to local communities to build relatively short links to existing trails to help connect areas where people live with significant public resources. That particular program would require the city to cover at least 25 percent of the costs and includes a maximum grant amount of $150,000.

The city has discussed this trail option in the past, and according to City Administrator Luke Fischer, it was somewhat controversial. The new segment of trail would be immediately adjacent to back yards of the easternmost homes in The Landings neighborhood, and would run between those yards and the Crow River.

Of the four potential trails linkages presented to the city council for their consideration, the Landings Project actually was not the top priority for a new trail, but rather, the one that the city council felt would be most likely to be selected for grant funding based on the DNR’s criteria. The option that generally seemed to be the council’s favorite was a trail segment that would run along Newton Avenue, connecting County Highway 10 with the King’s Highland neighborhood.

The council generally seemed to agree that a trail here would be the most frequently used and would address a safety issue — there are no sidewalks in this frequently traveled stretch of road — but decided that this option would not be as likely to receive DNR grant funding as The Landings Project.

Instead, the council directed city staff to continue to look into other grant funding possibilities for a trail along Newton Avenue. This particular option carries an estimated price tag of $260,000 to $345,000, which includes right-of-way acquisition along the entire 0.6-mile length.

Other options that were up for consideration included what was called the Derson Loop, where the Luce Line trail would be rerouted to hug the river in the downtown area, and a segment that would connect the King’s Highland neighborhood to the Luce Line trail.


Contact Matt Bunke at mat[email protected]