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Boulder Junction approves trail resolution

October 25, 2019 by Brian Jopek

The Boulder Junction Town Board approved two resolutions at its meeting Tuesday. 

One of those was approval to borrow $154,000 for the purchase of a 2019 Freightliner single axle patrol truck that replaces a 2010 International single axle patrol truck. 

The final price, according to town chairman Dennis Reuss, in the $156,000 range, is the trade-in price. 

“We’re very pleased with the deal we put together,” he said Wednesday. 

The other resolution pertained to grant applications that, if eventually awarded, would be used to fund construction of the North Creek Loop Bike Trail.

The trail would expand the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail along County Highway H from Hwy. K to North Creek Road. 

Trail distance is 3.3 miles. 

“This expansion will enhance Boulder Junction’s existing trail system, in addition to providing a scenic and safe connection to the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail,” according to the town’s website. 

North Creek Loop Bike Trail committee chairman Barb Konopacki, as she has the past several months, provided the town board with an update.

She said the committee has been very busy working on, “with a lot of help from others,” a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant application and a Multimodal Local Supplemental  (MLS) grant application. 

Both grants are facilitated through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. 

Konopacki said the deadline for the MLS grant application submittal is Dec. 6, 2019.

“Not far away,” she said, adding the grant awarding will be done in mid-January 2020. 

“If we would be awarded, those funds would be available for 2020 trail construction,” Konopacki said.

She said as far as the TAP grant application, the final submittal is also in January of 2020 but DOT officials want a draft of the application by Dec. 16. 

“Once the draft is received, the Wisconsin DOT staff will review and provide us with feedback,” Konopacki said, feedback that assist them in completion of that grant application. 

If the committee is successful in getting the TAP grant awarded, she said those funds would be awarded in July 2020 and be available for trail construction in 2021. 

Konopacki said the committee also intended to submit a grant application to the DNR’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program. 

“Information on that application will be available in January of 2020 and the grant (application) deadline would be May 2020,” she said.

The award announcement for that grant, Konopacki said, will probably in August of 2020 with funds available in 2021. 

“So, there’s a lot of wheels moving in this right now,” she said. 

Supervisor Jim Galloway, who’s been working with committee and assisting with the grant application process, said the design costs for the MLS and TAP grant applications range from $41,000 to $51,000 “that they (the committee) have taken upon themselves to pay.”

Committee member Sherri Sanderson said donations the committee have received so far total $33,000 and Konopacki said at least another $15,000 in donations are expected in the near future.  

“That eases up the grant requirement,” Reuss said.

“It does two things,” Galloway said. “It makes the grant application much more straightforward, especially with the TAP grant because those are federal dollars and a different process would have to be gone through entirely to secure a design firm. Secondly, it allows us to act immediately upon receipt of the funds.”

He said if it were a design/construction grant, the design would be completed one year and construction the next. 

Galloway’s comments, he told Reuss, were intended to “quantify” what it is the committee had done with the commitment to cover design costs. 

“It accelerates the program by one year,” he said. 



Up front with numbers

Later, during discussion about the resolution, Galloway, laid out the dollar amounts for the MLS and TAP grants.

“I want to be up front with the implications of these two grant applications so that we all understand what we’re asked to agree to,” he said. 

The first is the TAP grant, administered by the DOT, but using federal money. 

“By using federal dollars, that increases the cost of almost every aspect of the plan from design through construction,” Galloway said.

The construction estimate for the trail that has a minimum width of 10 feet — a requirement of the TAP grant — is $1,044,870.

Galloway said it’s an 80/20 cost share and the town’s portion would be almost $209,000. 

“It’s a reimbursement grant so we will not receive a penny until the project is completed,” he said. 

If the town should be awarded a Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant, Galloway indicated funding, if awarded, could be used toward the town’s share.

He said the MLS grant is less stringent as it uses state funding and not federal. 

“The MLS grant does not require — but prefers — a 10-foot wide trail,” Galloway said, explaining in discussions with DOT representatives, portions of the trail could be eight feet wide as opposed to the 10 feet. 

Because it’s not federal money and because portions of the trail would be narrower, Galloway said the cost estimate for the trail constructed with MLS funds is $885,600. 

The match for the MLS grant is 10% which would mean the town’s portion would be $88,560. 

“It is also a reimbursement grant,” Galloway said and added the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funds, again if awarded, could be used to fund the town’s share. 

Because of the reimbursement situation, Galloway’s recommendation was if any of the grants were awarded, the town take out a short term loan to pay for the entire project and then be reimbursed for the match from the state or federal governments. 

“So, if they don’t get any grants, do we go back to the drawing board?” supervisor Laura Bertch asked. “I mean, that’s devil’s advocate.”

“That could happen,” Reuss said. 

“This resolution is to apply for the grants,” Galloway said. “It says specifically grant funding is required to carry out the project.”

Before the vote on the resolution, Bertch complimented town residents “who have stepped forward” to work on various projects in Boulder Junction.

“Broadband, the bike trail,” she said. “We’re just moving so nicely. Working together.”

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

 

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