The Lakeside City Council will open a discussion on the possibility of a major extension of the LakeTrail recreation trail system when the council meets tonight.
Council member Burt Bonebrake has proposed the trail project, which he suggests could be funded through Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources grant programs for trails.
"I see this project primarily from a safety standpoint," Bonebrake explained Monday. "Lakeshore Drive is very busy, and it has no sidewalks at all and no respectable place for pedestrians and bicycles to get through," he said.
"I don't know how far this balloon is going to get off the ground (tonight), but I think we need to do something before someone gets hurt."
Bonebrake said he has already spoken with Northwest Iowa Development officials about help with the necessary red tape to seek a grant.
He said that some other council members have expressed an interest in the project.
The councilman hopes to see the LakeTrail extend from the former Cobblestone Ballroom, where the Storm Lake trail ends, along the east side of Lakeshore Drive as far as the city limits in the outlet dam area.
It would then be up to the county Board of Supervisors and residents of Bel Air Beach to determine if the trail would be further extended, hopefully reaching to the popular beach area, Bonebrake said.
According to the councilman, the city has enough right-of-way land access on the east side of the road to install the concrete trail separate from the road. He does not believe any buildings would be impacted. The decision on location, however, would be up to the council to decide, he said.
"I think that if we approach it right, there might be some grumbling from property owners, but not any major problems. After all we would be installing a trail that would be for their own safety and for their children as well - and it would double as sidewalk, without them having to be assessed for the cost," he said.
Bonebrake said he had conducted an informal traffic survey, counting 80 cars on Lakeshore Drive at the intersection of Cedar Street within 30 minutes on a Saturday evening. "When two cars pass on that road, there just isn't any room for a person who is walking or riding a bike," he said.
"As someone who has lived with a handicapped person for almost 60 years, I am very concerned about safe access for pedestrians in our town," Bonebrake said.
The project would be one more step toward developing recreation trail all the way around the lake, Bonebrake said, noting that it could tie with a petition being led by a Casino Beach family calling for a wider shoulder to accommodate a bike trail to be developed with the imminent reconstruction of C-65 in the Storm Lake airport.