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Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

New walking path at Aurelia is community-made

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

(Photo)
Denny Allen stands on the arched-bridge that he designed and which now is located in the new wetlands walking path in Aurelia. / Lorri Glawe
Aurelia is now showing off its wetland area on the south east edge of town with a wonderful walking path. It is also a welcoming site into the community for those traveling along Highway 7.

Many people in the community are able to take ownership of the path as many have contributed their time and talents.

Denny Allen explained the idea behind the path.

(Photo)
Nearly a decade ago, when he was serving on the Aurelia Economic Development board there was discussion about turning the same area into a lake. The Army Corp of Engineers said it could not be done.

As time went on, Allen continued to think of that area and still wanted to see something done with the area.

A walkthrough with a naturalist brought up some surprising information - it was learned that the natural wetland area contained 43 different plants.

The idea for the walking path was then introduced and the Army Corp of Engineers okayed the idea as long as it did not destroy more than 1/10 of an acre of the wetlands.

As president of the Aurelia Kiwanis, Allen presented the idea to his group and asked if they wanted to be involved which they agreed.

In November, 600 tons of dirt was moved from the elevator across the road from the wetland area (donated to the cause) to get things started.

Allen, who is quite creative and artistic, constructed an arched bridge in his farm shop for the project and with much help, it was put in place.

A second bridge, a straight bridge, is supported by four I-beams which were also donated and Aurelia Lumber donated lumber to make that structure. Kiwanis members helped in the construction of it.

The intention was to include 4,000-feet of sidewalk through the area but when they learned it would cost $118,000, they went to plan B and even plan C.

Local contractor company owned by Bill Smith agreed to providing 1,000 feet of sidewalk for $15,000.

A gazebo is in the works and will be completed this summer. It will be large enough to house an eight-person picnic table.

Currently, a half-mile long path is completed. Filling in the areas where there is no sidewalk is a path made of crushed class A limestone (infect, 75 tons of it). Three thousand more feet of limestone will be added to the path this fall, making a full mile loop starting at the south end of Walnut Street. Allen pointed out that the city will keep that portion of the path mowed through the summer for those wanting to walk the entire mile prior to its completion.

A conversation piece - large tracks embedded in a portion of the sidewalk. A secret - they were made by Allen and a door knob. Sometime soon, the "animal" that the tracks supposedly belong to will become part of the walking path as well. (It is being created in Allen's shop!)

Allen is pleased with the interest others in the community have taken in putting it together. Myron Radke and Bob Haselhoff are others who are volunteering their time.

The project is threefold, he said.

First, it is a walking path. Second, it dresses up an area of the community that many travelers see. And third, it is educational. (Allen hopes that eventually a listing of those 43 plants can be posted in the gazebo and visitors to the path can do their own search for them.)

No grants were received to fund the project which is estimated at $19,500 (most likely more than that when you consider what the volunteer hours would have cost.)

Donations toaling $5,500 have been received so far; it is hoped others will "get a good feeling in their heart and want to donate towards it," Allen said. Donations can be sent to the Aurelia Historical Society or Bob Stroud, earmarked wetlands project.

Allen has other ideas for the project and admits, "This is a project that will never end."



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