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Coulee River Trails continues planning

PRESCOTT – The Coulee River Trails initiative in Prescott continues to gain momentum for future plans. The Prescott City Council hosted a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7, which consisted of a presentation about what the future looks like and allowed the community to give input on project expectations.

City Administrator Matt Wolf organized the meeting between councilmembers and CRT stakeholders.

“The purpose of the meeting was to really get the input from the Trails group and what they have worked on, as well as the council and members of the public with concern of what is the vision for these trails,” he said. “We discussed the history of Coulee River Trails, the benefits of these trails and an overall look at how the trails are designed.”.

The initiative consists of many groups continuously working together to plan the trail’s future. Plans for the trail system span both Prescott and Oak Grove Township, meaning that the two will likely have to work together.

“There are six zones in total and two of the zones are not in the city of Prescott, they are in Oak Grove Township…” Wolf said. “We did discuss possibly setting up a workshop with the city of Prescott and Oak Grove Township to see if there is some interest and ability to work together to try to carry out the vision, so that is something that we are going to look into moving forward.”

The plans discussed also highlighted Magee Park, the possible future trailhead for the system.

“As we design these trails, we want to potentially make that a trailhead and the central point for people to access the trails,” said Wolf.

“We really talked about the vision of the Coulee River Trails project in the context of the city’s master planning and what is going to be the most strategic long-term for the city’s priorities,” said Israel Haas, director of the project.

Haas gave some insight on the recent community survey that was available for anyone to take. The results are still being analyzed, but some of the preliminary results showed positive attitudes and feedback toward the trail systems.

“We were really happy with the results,” Haas said. “We had 216 people respond … we had 70% of respondents from Prescott and 17% were Oak Grove residents and it was great to hear from both communities.”

The survey also showed a real need for trails in Prescott. Many people shared in the survey the reason they haven’t hiked or used local recreation.

“We noticed that what hinders people from recreating outdoors, walking, biking and running, was an overwhelming number one response of lack of trails that are nearby and easy to use, so this is definitely something that shows a need here,” said Haas. “What we were really excited about with the survey was that 90% of the respondents support the trail system in the Prescott area and 98% expect the local quality of life to be positively impacted by the trail system and that is pretty important for us.”

Other responses given in the survey were surprising to Haas. “Some of the highlights were really interesting; in addition to the trail system the next highest areas of interest were for pollinator habitats and picnics, so people want to use these trails and people are really concerned about protecting pollinators and we are listening to those feedback results as well,” he said.

According to Wolf, the next steps will be working with the National Park Service to get together a basic concept plan for Magee Park while the Parks and Public Property Committee defines the trail design system, Magee Park’s uses and what the boundaries are for what they want to do.

“This is a long-term plan,” Wolf said. “This isn’t something that we are expecting to happen completely next year, it is a long-term vision for what we would like to see happen … we are updating our comprehensive recreation plan and this will fit into that.”

As for concerns, there are a few. Wolf explained that some residents bordering Magee may have concerns as the project progresses.

“I think the main concerns were from people bordering Magee Park and how close the trails may be to the property lines,” Wolf said. “We plan to work with them to address those concerns and the city and the Coulee River Trails group are really willing to try to work toward alleviating those concerns as we continue to progress with these trails.”

The groups that are dedicating the time and energy into this project are all positive and optimistic about what this will bring to the city of Prescott.

“We are making sure that we are providing amenities that our residents want to see and I know this is something that has been talked about for a long time, so this is something we see that will help with the tourism attraction in Prescott and we are excited about the vision that we are creating,” Wolf said.

To learn more about CRT, find the group of Facebook.

December 14, 2021