City to present sidewalk, trail inventory

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This summer, volunteers walked 26 miles of city sidewalks and many of the city's 57 miles of trails, mapping them on GPS units.

An inventory of those sidewalks and trails will be presented at tonight's city council meeting and is the first step in the city's Sidewalks and Trails Master Plan.

The data will allow the city to locate gaps in sidewalks, find out what condition they are in and give it an idea of where sidewalks are needed when development projects come into the city, City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said.

"You know all this stuff, but to see it in one place is very helpful," DuBord said.

The project was made possible through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, which provided $30,000 to purchase six GPS units. The units also are being used for another city project that gathers information for fire prevention.

The city had 13 volunteers who contributed 120 hours of time walking city sidewalks and trails to map them on the GPS units.

The volunteers had a three- to four-hour training session on working with GPS units then set out into the field. If the project was contracted to the private sector, DuBord said, it could have cost $12,000 to $15,000.

"Some volunteers did it on the weekends. Even some families went out together. We had individuals and couples," DuBord said. "They learned a lot about the community."

The inventory also included what the sidewalks are made of, how wide they and the locations of bridges. The inventory also distinguishes concrete sidewalks from soft-surface trails.

One of the city's 2004 goals was to develop a Sidewalks and Trails Master Plan. The inventory is the first step in developing the plan, which later will include details such as property ownership, surrounding wetlands and access.

DuBord said that portion of the plan would not be done in house.

Volunteers who worked on the plan will be acknowledged at today's meeting.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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