HTP seeks interest in formation of trails committee

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     With the extension of the Willow Trail complete, the Hometown Pride/Monticello Main Street committee is seeking volunteers to serve on a newly revived trails committee.

     This committee would be a subcommittee of the HTP group.

     The idea for a trail in Monticello actually started about 14 years ago, through the Community Planning Board.

     “People said we needed trails,” recalled City Administrator Doug Herman. “Trails have been talked about for so long.”

     While that trails committee wasn’t too active and fell by the wayside, this new resurgence has some decisions to make.

     “We need people to step up,” urged Parks and Rec Superintendent Shannon Poe, and chair of the HTP committee. “There are some people in town who are interested; they have the energy to see more continue (with trails).”

     Right now, the full length of Willow Trail in Monticello spans about a mile. A much-talked about extension would bring that trail from Oakwood Cemetery out to the Kirkwood campus area to the south. To the north, it could travel from the E. First Street Bridge toward Riverside Gardens and eventually through the city park (fairgrounds) and out to Jellystone Park.

     “We have a concept,” offered Herman. “But we need to reach out to property owners and figure out our next piece.”

     The big picture for the future would be to connect Willow Trail to the new Wapsipinicon Trail in Anamosa.

     Both Herman and Poe said communities that have trails see the benefit through economic growth.

     “Trails increase property values from 1 to 6.5 percent,” noted Poe of her research into the upside of trails.

     Trails provide a free recreational opportunity for residents and visitors. During times like this with COVID-19, people want to get out of their homes and get some fresh air.

     “Trails allow access to outdoor spaces,” offered Poe. “It gives them something to do away from COVID.”

     Trails also provide transportation connections for those walking or biking.

     “It reduces the use of cars and fossil fuels,” added Poe. “They’re a benefit to the environment, and protect habitat as a buffer between wildlife and development.”

     Additional benefits of trails include:

     • Boosts local spending

     • Makes communities attractive to live in

     • Influences business locations

     “Trails are a destination,” Poe said. “They bring business and tax dollars to a community. They’re needed more and more, especially in today’s reality.”

     Ideally, HTP would like to see 10 to 12 people step up to serve on the trail committee, with six to eight more people needed.

     “This allows the committee to build consensus,” Herman said of the size of the committee.

     Poe said those who use the Willow Trail, or any trails for that matter, would be great assets, as well as someone with some grant-writing experience.

     Herman warned that trail projects tend to take time and cost a lot of money; however, nothing gets done unless people take charge and act.

     “We need to do something,” he said of continuing the trail project throughout the community.

     Those interested in serving on the HTP trails committee or learning more about the opportunity can contact Poe at 319-465-6640 or


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