Bridge loss affects trail’s future
KALONA — The destruction of the old English River Bridge by fire on Aug. 11, may have destroyed more than the historic 1887 bridge that was to be a key part of the proposed trail from Kalona to Richmond. Without a bridge, there is no way for the trail to cross the English River.
Monday, the Kalona Council learned there are only two options regarding the 19th century bridge: repair/replacement or removal. The former, said City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh, would first require an analysis of the structure with a view to renovating it for use on the trial. Survey cost could range from $10,000 to $15,000. The second option would be to take the 119-foot actual iron bridge and move it, possibly over the east side creek in Kalona near the Kalona Park as a way of saving history, he said. The land that borders the creek is owned by the city to the east and the Kalona Historical Society to the west.
However, Schlabaugh added, the bridge is county property and any decision will be up to the county supervisors, one of whom, Bob Yoder, was at the meeting. Yoder said the board has not made a decision, but has concerns about possible liability issues. The county was on board with the trail plan that would have incorporated the bridge on the pedestrian/bike path.
Schlabaugh said replacing the bridge to meet state standards for a pedestrian/ bike structure is about $1 million. The figure is well beyond the amount available for trail development that would have gone nearly two miles from the Kalona city park to the park in the unincorporated town of Richmond.
Council members noted they have talked with people who had a lot of memories about the old iron bridge, but agreed that the county owns it and has to be the one to decide its fate.
The council also received an update about the newly formed English River Watershed Management Authority (ERWMA) that has 11 members and just applied for a $150,000 planning and development grant from the Department of Natural Resources. The funds would be to create a watershed comprehensive plan, explained Schlabaugh, and word about the grant will be “in about two weeks.”
He said there is representation on the ERWMA from all members. There is now a seven-member executive board with a plan for a full election in November. He added that more members are expected to join.
In other business, the council:
• learned that there will be a meeting with the Mid-Prairie District in September to discuss the possible joint community center/gym project with the district. By that time Kalona will have preliminary finds and cost estimates from architect Martin Gardner of Marion for the possible Kalona part of the plan. “After that, we will see if we go with the district on this or walk away,” said Schlabaugh;
• learned that all is ready for the Aug. 24 third annual Kalona celebration of the downtown revitalization project;
• learned that roadwork, specifically curb and gutter near Eighth Street and Seventh street could be upward of $150,000. Schlabaugh said there will be better pricing for the next meeting;
• learned that the city has again applies for a $75,000 REAP grant and will make a presentation to the DNR in Des Moines Sept. 17. Schlabaugh noted there is a “lot of competition” and that applications seek $2.1 million from a fund that has $912,000;
•l earned that the Iowa Department of Transportation will do asphalt work on Highway 22 between Wellman and Kalona, starting Aug. 26 with work done only between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. It is planned to do two miles per day; and
• learned that for the second consecutive year, the municipal pool has no deficiencies whatsoever. “There will be no write-up,” said Schlabaugh.