Exciting projects are currently underway at City Park. These projects will improve City Park features and enhance the park experiences for generations to come. The City of Winterset appreciates the continued support from so many individuals, community organizations, and volunteers who led the charge to make these projects happen. The following is a little information about some these projects.
Last summer an Eagle Scout Project, coordinated by Jacob Dick, upgraded the lower portion of Clark Tower Trail. A lot of clearing work was completed to allow A switch-back and roadstone to be installed. Jacob and his crew of scouts/parents/volunteers worked really hard to improve the trail surface. More improvements to City Park trails are coming in the future.
This past winter, the first action was taken on our Woodlands Management Plan to restore, preserve and protect the natural and historical features of City Park. Park users will notice that lots of honeysuckle, an invasive species, order to restore and preserve the woodlands and oak savanna in lower City Park, several management practices will be conducted over the next several years. 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 10-member volunteer City Park Restoration Committee to get a plan developed and action moving forward.
After several years of planning, improvements to the City Park entrance will get underway in 2019. In the spring, as weather allows, construction will begin on the enhanced City Park entrance. The chain link fencing, currently along E. South Street, is being replaced by stone columns, attractive sign, sections of wood rail fencing, lighting, and plantings. This project was made possible as the result of a very generous gift by the Bernard and Frances Wight family. The new entrance will greatly enhance the first impression as you enter City Park.
After this work is completed, the adjacent City Park northwest parking area will also be greatly enhanced. This parking lot is scheduled to be paved in the fall, to allow for better accessibility and year-round use. The new parking lot will be open all year long for visitor parking and will make the park more inviting during the winter months. The circle drive will still be closed for vehicle traffic during the winter months. In addition, sidewalks will be installed for park users to get from the parking lot directly to the covered bridge. These improvements will make Cutler-Donahue Covered Bridge completely wheel-chair/motorized cart accessible from the parking lot. Installation of the sidewalks is an on-going effort to connect various park features and make City Park more and more accessible and walking friendly. Grants and City revenues from L.O.S.T. will fund the parking area improvements.
Another very exciting project going on right now is a huge effort to get City Park designated as a historic district in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). This effort is led by volunteers with the Madison County Historic Preservation Commission (MCHPC). A lot of preliminary work has already been completed and it appears City Park is eligible for the HRHP. Specific areas of historical interest include: limestone shelters, bridges, one limestone ruin, log cabin, roadways, old quarries and the early park landscaping. The endepth research required for a successful application will soon begin. Cost to the City for the entire nomination process will be very minimal thanks to the huge effort by the skilled MCHPC volunteers. The benefit of a successful nomination to the HRHP is available funding sources and other assistance to restore and properly preserve specific features in the park.
Work on upgrades and expansion to the City Park Campground will wrap up in 2019. Upgrades completed in recent years include: adding water service to 7 sites (including all pull-throughs), installing two pedestals with electric service in tent area, adding 6 new full-service sites (to open this summer), new woodshed, wi-fi, and shower building re-shingled. Special recognition goes to the Winterset Municipal Utilities (Water & Electric crews) for their continued support of park upgrades and expansions. The upgrades will provide better accommodations for the many visitors who stay here since opening in October of 1995. Records show over 82,000 over-night stays at City Park and $1.1M is camping revenues since opening.