Children walking or biking to school in Hinton will have a safer route to follow next fall.
Plans are in the works to build a rec trail, starting at the intersection of First Avenue and Grover Street, continuing west on Grover, then north on Second Avenue to Main Street (C-60).
The proposed 1,100-foot concrete trail will intersect at Second Avenue and Grover Street with an existing rec trail to the south that leads to Hinton Community School.
Hinton Mayor Gary Fischer said the new 8-foot-wide rec trail will be a nice addition.
"A lot of kids walk from Main Street to school," Fischer said. "Instead of walking in the middle of the street, hopefully they will stick to the sidewalk."
Hinton City Councilman Ken Spies said having the trail also adds to the appeal of the city.
"It makes our town that much nicer," he said.
Making Hinton a better community is a goal of the Beautification Committee, or Beautification Babes as they call themselves.
The committee has been working on the Hinton Trail Project for about two years, said Kelly Nashleanas, president of the group.
"It was very important to our group because we felt it would help school children get to school safely," she said. "It also gives community members of all ages a longer trail on which to walk and bike."
Nashleanas said the Beautification Committee worked with school officials to bring professionals from the National Center for Safe Routes to School to Hinton.
"They came and talked to us about children today and how they are less active," Nashleanas said. "Years ago the standard way to get to school was kids hopped on their bike or walked to school."
She said the Safe Routes to School public program included information about providing safe crosswalks with safety lights for children.
"They had driven around Hinton and pointed out some concerns for children," Nashleanas said.
Giving people the opportunity to learn about safe routes to school for their children helped create excitement for the rec trail project, she said.
"We're all thinking we live in a great community and the safety of our children has to be our No. 1 priority," Nashleanas said.
Construction of the rec trail is estimated to cost about $125,000, most of which will be paid for with grant dollars, said Wayne Schlotfeldt, owner of Schlotfeldt Engineering, Inc., in Le Mars.
Schlotfeldt has been working with the Beautification Committee and the city of Hinton on plans for the new rec trail.
The committee obtained a $100,000 grant from the Federal Enhancement Program, administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPC0), to help build the trail.
Because it is a matching grant, the city of Hinton will pay the remaining about 25 percent cost of the project, Schlotfeldt said.
He explained that the new trail will be handicapped-accessible meeting American Disability Act requirements such as width, slope and ramps.
"Construction (of the trail) will be sometime in the summer," Schlotfeldt said. "Bidding will be in the spring."
The Beautification Committee would also like to plant trees along the trail and place park benches, Nashleanas said.
"If they do the trail and money is left over, then we do the benches," she said. "If there's not, we will have to write grants for it."
The proposed rec trail also fits into a future vision of extending the trail from the city to the Hillview Recreation Area, 1 mile west of Hinton, Nashleanas said.
"We don't have anything finalized or approved," she said. "The next step will be to find a workable route with the city, county and landowners."
Nashleanas said the Beautification Committee has obtained a letter of support signed by the Plymouth County Conservation Board for the Hinton to Hillview trail concept.
She also plans to present the idea to the county board of supervisors in November, Nashleanas said.
As for Hinton city officials, councilman Spies said they are on board, noting that portion of the project would fall under the county's jurisdiction.
"The city of Hinton is very supportive of the concept," Spies said.
Nashleanas said the Hinton to Hillview trail is in the very preliminary stages, but she sees an awesome future recreational opportunity for residents and visitors.
"We have in our head a vision and an idea of how we would like this to progress," she said. "It will be by far one of the prettiest trail projects in the state of Iowa when completed."