By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Ed Englehart, Director of the Marshfield Parks and Recreation Department, hopes the Marshfield trail system will receive a major addition by 2015. Specifically, a proposed Wildwood-McMillan Connector Trail would span from the south side of the city, at Wildwood Park, to the north end, near the intersection of McMillan Street and Fig Avenue.
The majority of the connector trail would consist of off-road walking and bicycle paths except for a segment along Park Street and another running from Depot Street to Cleveland Street, which would be shared road segments.
The trail has received a federal grant of $810,000 and the project is estimated to cost a total of approximately $1.5 million dollars. Englehart said that in a Parks and Recreation Department survey of the community, the Wildwood-McMillan connector trail ranked as the trail project with the most public support.
The trail still requires acquisition of 19 easements along the route, including easements through land owned by the Marshfield Clinic, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and the Marshfield School District.
“Our hope is the majority of our big land owners will provide us the easement at no cost,” Englehart said.
He added that finalizing plans for the trail has been a complex and time consuming process, but the project is an important addition to the community.
“We still feel that from the city staff level … it is very important to get this one done,” Englehart said.
If the plans stay on course, Englehart expects that construction on the connector trail would begin in the summer of 2015 and would be completed within 10 weeks.
Marshfield Area Friends of the Trails (MAFOTT) is an organization that works to support the expansion, maintenance, and improvements to the local trail systems. MAFOTT President Greg Hesch said that the process for getting the connector trail approved has been difficult but that it is a worthwhile project.
“So much of it is it can connect from Wildwood Park and go all the way to McMillan Street. So there’s a lot more people that can ride their bike to work,” Hesch said. “It will be a huge impact once it’s done.”