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Arbor Vitae bike trails peddling slowly forward

August 23, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

Arbor Vitae continues to progress towards connecting with the area’s bike trails. 

Tuesday evening, the Arbor Vitae Bicycle Trail Foundation met to continue towards its goal. The Foundation was established nearly five years ago and has been working on raising funds towards the effort ever since — but some are becoming frustrated at the slow movement. 

“We’re like the hole that connects to nowhere,” Foundation member and town of Arbor Vitae clerk Mary Reuland observed. “People are calling and asking, ‘What is going on? I donated and plan to donate again, but I need to know the progress of it now.” 

Thus far, around $30,000 has been raised towards the proposed trail — estimated at between $1.5 and $2 million. The initial aim was to be nine miles of paved trail starting at State Highway 70 and 51 and ending at County Roads M and N south of Boulder Junction. 

Lower level goals or phases may be the best next step, however, the non-profit Foundation decided Tuesday. 

“I think what we need to do is look at different levels,” Foundation member and Arbor Vitae Town Board supervisor Ashley Roach said. “We’ve been treading water for so many years. We’re just collecting pennies … we need to get this built … smaller goals, maybe sections of trails, types of trails? So we have something to show to the people that have made and want to make donations.” 

Possibilities could include first starting with grass/mowed trails, upgrading to crushed granite or limestone trails then the final product — asphalt, Roach and members Susan Knight and Bill Scweisheimer considered. 

“Then we can show with a bike map and the trails, ‘See, this is what your money does,’” Roach said. 

Another option could be a small trail looping in the area, committee members discussed. 

Reuland noted the town of Arbor Vitae is currently paying for some of the maintenance of the first donated $3,000 portion — by the Noon Rotary — of bike trail, currently running at a total of over $7,000, which cannot be expected to continue, she indicated. 

“They pay the bills for us, that’s their support for us,” Barb Freudigmann added.

“Truly, this isn’t really going anywhere,” Reuland added. “After five years, you guys haven’t paid expenses. This isn’t going anywhere … we need more than posters … we’re spinning our wheels.”

“I think we’re all frustrated with how long this is taking,” Scweisheimer said. “What we need is to get something built … use smaller steps to show people we are actually doing something, even grass.”

“We’re a small group (but) we’ve got to figure how to get this done,” Roach further agreed.

“If we have a firm path and budget, we can go to the town people and sponsors for donations,” Knight added. “We don’t really want a trail to nowhere … but we need to be able to show something.” 

Sponsors are still joining and welcome to join. Grant programs are also aimed to be reviewed as well as conversing with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, area snowmobile clubs for possible multi-use or side-by-side trails and perhaps landowners for a smaller start to the trail goal, it was added. 

The Foundation expects to meet again in November. 

For more information, visit www.arborvitaebiketrail.com.

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