GC approves pre-application for $400,000 Safe Routes to School project

By LeAnn R. Ralph

GLENWOOD CITY —  The Glenwood City Council on Monday night approved authorizing Cedar Corporation to submit a pre-application for a Safe Routes to School grant that would apply to a $400,000 project.

The pre-application will not cost the city any money, said Patrick Beilfuss of Cedar Corporation.

The guidelines for Safe Routes to School projects changed this year, he said.

According to the previous guidelines, the grants would cover 100 percent of the project cost, and the projects were required to be a minimum of $25,000, Beilfuss said.

Under the new guidelines, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will fund the grants at an 80/20 split, with the grant covering 80 percent of a project costing a minimum of $300,000, and the municipality paying 20 percent of the project cost, he said.

Beilfuss said he had talked to representatives of the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and WisDOT to see if several municipalities could go together to bundle their projects for a grant.

Initially, WCWRPC and the WisDOT said the projects could be bundled, but then WisDOT officials said, no, bundling the projects would not work, he said.

WisDOT’s reasoning is that the grant applications need a certain amount of background information from each community. Judging the grant applications in the bundle would be difficult if one community had a weak application and another community had a very strong application, Beilfuss said.

Glenwood City has two options: do not apply for the grant this time around and wait four years until the next grant cycle or else increase the project’s scope to reach the $300,000 minimum, he said.

Increasing the scope of the project could include a crosswalk across state Highway 170 between the school and Misty Lane with warning beacons on 170, a sidewalk along Misty Lane, a sidewalk along Magnolia Drive to the park, and making an existing trail compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act by paving it with asphalt and replacing the bridge, Beilfuss said.

Increasing the project would make it a good grant candidate because it would be a continuous route located by a school that connects to a neighborhood and would provide a safe crossing on Highway 170, he said.

Cost estimates include $100,000 for the crosswalk on 170 and a sidewalk on the west side of Misty Lane, along with design fees and fees for the state to review the project for the Safe Routes to School grant.

A sidewalk on the south side of Magnolia Drive would cost $60,000, and a ten-foot wide paved asphalt trail with a new bridge would cost an estimated $270,000, for a total project cost of $435,000.

Nancy Hover, city council member, wondered if Glenwood City would actually have to start construction on the project before finding out if the city received the Safe Routes grant.

The Safe Routes to School program has gone to a different application process and now requires a pre-application. If Glenwood’s pre-application is accepted, the city would be invited to submit a full grant application in March, Beilfuss said, noting that WisDOT will not reimburse for what has already been paid for.

Dave Graese, city council member, said he would be in favor of leaving Magnolia Drive out of the Safe Routes project because if the city installs a sidewalk, the homeowners will be responsible for maintaining the sidewalk.

Several city council members said they did not think the students from the school would use the sidewalks.

If Glenwood City makes it through the pre-application process and is invited to submit a full application for a grant, the city council can decide at that time about tweaking the project, Beilfuss said.

If Glenwood City is invited to apply for the grant, does that mean Glenwood is guaranteed a grant? Hover asked.

And if Glenwood City is invited to apply for a grant, does that mean the city is obligated to do the project? she asked.

The answer to both questions is “no,” Beilfuss said.

The deadline for the pre-application is this Friday, he noted.

The project would benefit both Glenwood City and the school district, said Ben DeGross, city council member.

The Glenwood City Council unanimously approved a motion authorizing Cedar Corporation to move forward with the pre-application for a Safe Routes to School grant.

Mayor John Larson was absent from the meeting.

Other business

In other business, the Glenwood City Council:

• Approved bartender operator’s licenses for Jennifer Prinsen and Jennifer Klinger.

• Approved a list of election inspectors: Betty Forrest; Barb Dillow (chief inspector); Karen Marlette; Linda Krizan; Karen Peterson; Barb Stohr; Tricia Kremer; Paula DeWitt; Jill Logghe; Sylvia Bonte; Joy DeWyre; Mike DeWyre; Cheryl Holldorf; Diane Jeske; Marlene Kerr; Kay Logghe; Cindy Munkwitz.

• Approved Ordinance 2013-04 amending the ordinance on election officials and polling hours, which will allow the city clerk to schedule split shifts for elections if necessary instead of 15-hour shifts for all poll workers.

• Postponed taking action on borrowing $130,000 from Hiawatha Bank at 3.25 percent for five years or from the State Trust Fund at 3.5 percent interest.