Exciting projects are underway at City Park. These projects will improve City Park features and enhance the park experiences for generations to come. The City of Winterset greatly appreciates the many individuals, community organizations and businesses who support these projects. Some of these projects are very visible and some are not as obvious. The following information will get you up to date.
After several years of planning, enhancements to the City Park entrance began to take shape in 2019. The NW parking lot was paved and sidewalks from the parking lot to Cutler-Donahoe Covered Bridge were completed last fall. The new parking lot will be open all year long for visitor parking, including the winter months. Installation of the sidewalks is an on-going effort to connect various park features and make City Park more accessible and walking friendly. Also last year, work began on enhancing the City Park entrance. The old, ‘ugly’ chain link fencing along E. South Street was removed and construction began on the new stone columns, attractive sign, wood rail fencing, lighting, and plantings. This work is scheduled to finish up in the spring and will be a much improved, welcoming as you enter City Park. This project was made possible as the result of a very generous gift by the Bernard and Frances Wight family.
In later 2018 a very talented volunteer City Park Restoration Committee was established. As a result, City Park now has an approved Conservation Plan and appropriate practices are underway. The City Park Conservation Plan has three objectives: 1) Improve and maintain aesthetics and restore historic landscapes, 2) Improve and maintain long term forest and savanna health, diversity, and ecological integrity, 3) Improve and maintain education and recreation opportunities for the public. In order to restore and preserve the woodlands and oak savanna in lower City Park, several management practices have been implemented. Practices include controlling invasive species, thinning less-desirable trees and prescribed burns. As a result, these practices in time will restore woodland species diversity, improve overall woodland health, increase the quality of habitat for wildlife, and enhance the view of the park aesthetics. We greatly appreciate all the efforts and expertise by the District Forester, Aaron Wright, and the volunteer City Park Restoration Committee.
Still another, very exciting project going on right now is a huge effort to get City Park recognized on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). This effort is led by volunteers with the Madison County Historic Preservation Commission (MCHPC). Preliminary work began in 2018. The tedious research work required for a successful application is expected to wrap up later this year. Particular areas of historical interest include, limestone shelters, bridges, one limestone ruin, log cabin, roadways, old quarries and the early park landscaping. Cost to the City for the entire nomination process will be very minimal thanks to the skilled MCHPC volunteers. This huge undertaking may not be real obvious right now but will be a BIG deal for the park for future years. The benefit of a successful nomination to the NRHP will be available funding sources and other assistance to restore and properly preserve these park features. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement later this year or very early in 2021.
Last fall an Eagle Scout Project, coordinated by Peyton Dick, upgraded the middle portion of Clark Tower Trail. 500 feet of the trail was upgraded. Project involved: using pickaxes to widen portions of the trail; applying 18-ton of road stone and some bigger stones for edging to prevent erosion; and some clearing. Peyton and his crew of scouts/parents/volunteers worked really hard to make this happen. Special thanks to the Boy Scout program, Peyton and his Family, and Martin Marietta for donating the rock. Older brother Jacob Dick completed a project to upgrade the lower portion of this trail in 2018. More improvements to City Park trails are coming in the future. And finally, the City Park Campground Expansion project wrapped up last year. Six new full-service sites will open early this summer after the new seeding is somewhat established. Upgrades completed in recent years in addition to the new sites are, adding water service to 7 sites (including all pull-throughs), installing two pedestals with electric service in tent area, and new wood shed. The upgrades provide better accommodations for the many visitors who stay here. Records show 86,200 overnight stays at City Park and $1.2M in camping revenues since opening in 1995.