Paying off a huge debt is undoubtedly a relief for anyone. And no one could be more relieved to have paid off $167,500 then Friends of the Great Sauk State Trail president Jeff Wright.
The Friends group was tasked with fundraising $167,500 to pay for its share of Phase One of the Great Sauk State Trail, which was the amount left after each municipality – the villages of Prairie du Sac and Sauk City and the Town of Prairie du Sac – as well as Sauk County and a state stewardship grant put in their contributions.
Sauk County and the villages of Prairie du Sac and Sauk City each originally pledged $207,500 to the project, with $400,000 from a state grant and $10,000 donated by the Town of Prairie du Sac. The cost for the project increased during Phase one, and with that increase the villages pledged another $77,000, with the county covering the remaining $580,000.
Wright, who represented the Friends group at the December Sauk County Board of Supervisors meeting, handed over the check to Sauk County Board of Supervisors chair Marty Krueger.
Wright said he brought his children along to the Sauk County Board of Supervisors meeting to hand over the check as a symbol of what’s to come.
“I told Marty (Krueger) at that meeting this trail is being built for their generation, not ours,” Wright said. “This is a big moment that we’ve paid that bill.”
Krueger said the partnership the county has had with the trail’s friends group has been good.
“Receiving that check from them for the amount they pledged was certainly great,” Krueger said. “We look forward to continuing that partnership as we work toward building the trail through Badger. And with the bridge in Sauk City set to come down, we hope to see work on that rail connection also.”
Wright said the Friends group will pay for a larger portion of Phase two of the trail, the segment which begins at the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area (formerly the Badger Army Ammunitions Plant) to the south end of Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo.
“The cost of phase two has been adjusted to an estimated $1.1 million, and the Friends group will cover approximately half that amount,” Wright said. “The first phase was built on several municipal partnerships. The second is mostly a Sauk County and Friends group partnership.”
Wright said some things might happen that could reduce the amount, such as recycling and selling scrap. “If we can find ways to make it cost less, we can reduce the costs,” Wright said.
In the spring, the Friends group will begin to install amenities along Phase one of the trail. “This will include mile markers so trail users can alert necessary services if an emergency should occur,” Wright said. “It will also include benches in honor or in memory of individuals and history boards that will help tell the story of our community. People will start seeing the concrete pads for those going in early in the spring.”
Wright said while segments of rail track had been taken up over time in the first phase, the segment of trail through Sauk Prairie Recreation Area has been largely untouched. “Once you get into the rec area, it’s pretty much one consistent line all the way through,” Wright said. “We are hoping to begin removing that as soon as weather allows.”
Work will be conducted by the Sauk County Highway Department during down times over the next few months. “If we have a low snowfall winter with temperatures that allow them to work, they could begin as early as the next few weeks,” Wright said. “If that crew has to be working to keep our roads safe due to weather, then that’s where they need to be.”
Wright said the Friends group recently received a $5,000 contribution from the Dorf Haus of Roxbury. “For a single restaurant to give that amount is something we are very grateful for and happy.”