- Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) - Officials in a western Iowa city are moving forward with a proposed trail connecting the community with Sioux City after the $10 million project was delayed amid liability and maintenance concerns.

The Le Mars City Council voted to serve as the contracting authority for developing and constructing the 16-mile trail, the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/2rsICc8 ) reported.

Plans for the project hit a roadblock over which entity would own the segment in unincorporated areas of Plymouth County.

The City Council will work with two smaller towns along the route - Merrill and Hinton - to create an agreement over ownership and maintenance of the trail.

The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors and county conservation board were reluctant to take ownership of the trail, citing liability issues and maintenance costs.

In February, County Supervisors Chairman Don Kass said only 2 percent of residents are avid bicyclists. He said it didn’t make sense for the county to maintain the trail when many residents wouldn’t use it.

The PlyWood trail will run through Plymouth County and Woodbury County. Construction could begin in late 2018, after financing is finalized and easements are settled.

Trail supporters plan to start private fundraising later this year and have already received $1 million in seed money from the city of Le Mars. Wells Enterprises, the maker of Blue Bunny ice cream, has pledged a seven-figure contribution. State and federal grants will also be sought to help cover costs.

The trail will be a boon to the region, said Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff.

“The demand is there for the trail. … It is called quality of life,” Kirchoff said.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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