The newest trail connecting Clarke Elementary and East Lake Park is finished and park goers can now walk, jog, bike or skate along the nine-tenths of a mile long path.
"We had to watch out for people as we were constructing the trail. We tried to keep them off of it, but that's how much excitement there is for the trail," said Scott Kent, Clarke County Conservation Officer.
The concrete has been poured but this has been a much longer process than simply construction. The trails concept has been tossed around for 30 years and Kent is grateful to have been in the right place at the right time to get to oversee and work on this project.
"When I started, the timing was just to the right point where some of the land owners were willing to sell and we had multiple people working together on this project," said Kent.
Obtaining the land to build the trail from residents was the longest process and now sections of the trail will be dedicated to each of the families that sold property to make it possible.
Once the land was obtained, construction was able to begin. Again, different entities came together to make this trail a reality. Clarke County Conservation was able to do the grading of the path themselves. The Clarke County Secondary Roads crew participated in culvert installation. One of the culverts is 50 feet long and 84 inches in diameter, large enough to walk through. Then the concrete was poured.
The land around the trail has been seeded with wildflower seed that will benefit butterfly and honey bee populations. Blue bird boxes have been constructed by Clarke High School's shop classes to be installed along the trail as well. There is also a herd of deer that call the park home, so once the seed is able to grow there will be a lot of nature to take in along the trail.
"We wanted to create an opening for the people who live in town to have the opportunity to walk to the park instead of having to drive out there," said Kent. "Now not only do the citizens of Osceola have a chance to walk out there, also the grade school kids can walk out there for field trips and not have to rely on the buses to transport them."
Kent would like to thank the following people for their participation and cooperation with the trail project:
•Ivan Rodriguez — sold land
•Donna O'Neil — sold land
•Dale and Imogene Wieland — sold and donated land
•Clarke County Secondary Road — helped install culverts and donated use of equipment
•City of Osceola — helped with purchase of land and obtain REAP Grant
•Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) — helped with purchase of land
•Friends of Clarke County Conservation — helped with purchase of land
•REAP Grant — $75,000 grant that helped with land purchase
•Pillar's Grant (through INHF) — $17,000 grant helped with land purchase
•Clarke County Development Corporation — $100,000 towards concrete for trail
•Wellmark Grant — $25,000 towards concrete for trail and landscaping
•Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund — donated all of the wildflower seed for the area surrounding the trail
•Clarke County Conservation Board — headed the whole project and help with cost with REAP money and land rent income
"The project cost over $300,000 and the Clarke County Conservation Board has only had to contribute around 10 percent of that cost. That 10 percent consists of money that is given to the Conservation Board from REAP funds each year and money that the Conservation Board collects from some of it’s land rent. Thus, very little “tax payer money” was used for this project. The Clarke County Conservation Board is very excited to be able to develop projects like this while being mindful of where the money is coming from," said Kent.