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  • Wed January 13 2010
  • Posted Jan 13, 2010
Coralville & Tiffin Rachel Gallegos Iowa City Press-Citizen A combined effort between Coralville, Tiffin and the county will work to extend trail accessibility west toward F.W. Kent Park. The Clear Creek Trail starts in Coralville, and the city has plans to extend the trail west to the Interstate 80 bridge, Johnson County Conservation Department Executive Director Harry Graves said. From there, Tiffin will build its portion of the trail through to Ireland Avenue, he said. The county portion of the trail will continue from there, including on the first piece of land purchased with the $20 million conservation bond. The Johnson County Conservation Board completed the $420,280.68 purchase of an 87-acre tract of land adjacent to Clear Creek last July, Graves said. The county also has an easement on the Larry Ryan property, which adjoins Ireland Avenue and the 87-acre tract. Until the trail is defined, that area is not open to the public, Graves said. The 87-acre Clear Creek area west of Tiffin is open as a wildlife property for activities, including hiking and hunting, Graves said. There is a sign marking the area on Half Moon Avenue south of the railroad tracks, he said. With this easement and land purchase, the trail will extend about half the distance to Kent Park, Graves said. “We’ve got a solid route with a terminating point,” he said. The goal is to extend the separated trail on to the park, then the county line, and eventually the Amana Colonies. “We’re long overdue in Johnson County to have some trails, and we’re definitely overdue to have a trail connection to Kent Park,” said Graves, adding that the goal is to have a concrete trail throughout. The trail will be about half a mile north of Interstate 80 and half a mile south of Highway 6, in the floodway of Clear Creek. Despite having a busy roadway on each side, people on the trail will still be able to “have that feeling of removal from the hustle and bustle.” “It’s a really nice departure to commune with nature,” Graves said. Building the trail in the floodway does present some challenges, but Graves said he thinks having a design for the county portion of the trail by late summer is an attainable goal. The $20 million conservation bond, approved by a 61 percent supermajority in November 2008, includes language for trails, but the goal is to leverage grants, Graves said. “Grants for trail funding are much more likely to be garnered than money for the acquisition of property,” he said. “Bike trails are a quality of life issue,” Graves said. “That’s why people live in Iowa City, Denver, Colo. and Des Moines.” Trails are “friendly amenities that are important to our lives,” he said.

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