Railroad Street site approved for Gillett trailhead facility

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City has $133K state grant for the project

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com

A site has finally been chosen for a trailhead facility that has been discussed for years near the base of the Nicolet State Trail in Gillett.

The Parks & Cemetery Committee took to the internet for the answer, posting a poll on the “Gillett Community & Events” Facebook page that asked people to choose between the two final options.

Committee Chairperson Sandra Hubbard told the City Council on Thursday that the online poll received 248 responses, and another 13 people brought postcards to City Hall with their input.

About 78 percent of those responses favored a site along Railroad Street across from the former Gillett Meat Market, over an alternative along McKenzie Avenue across from Pat’s Market, where volleyball courts were once located.

The council unanimously approved the Railroad Street site.

As currently envisioned, the facility would have two bathrooms and two showers for use by trail users and visitors to Zippel Park as well as the Nicolet Trail Campground.

The original proposal five years ago also included a computerized kiosk featuring trail information, vending machines, picnic tables, an asphalt parking area, signs, security cameras and landscaping. The vision was scaled back after estimates came in around $400,000.

The city is working with a $133,000 state grant for construction, Mayor James Beaton told the committee.

“The city does not have any additional resources to put toward this project. So when you are talking with whomever you’re talking with about engineering and that sort of thing, the figures that have come in have been higher than that,” Beaton said.

Those estimates have been ballpark figures, he added.

“We really need to get a dialed-in number because I think they were guessing on some things,” he said. “But if we can’t do this project for $133,000, we have to figure out where that money would come from.”

Hubbard said if the city can’t raise additional funds, the project could conceivably be scaled back further.

“It doesn’t seem like the comments – and there weren’t that many that I heard – weren’t all in favor of the shower,” she said.

The Nicolet State Trail runs 89 miles through Oconto, Florence and Forest counties and the Nicolet National Forest. The trail is popular for ATV use in the summer and fall, with the favorite starting point at Zippel Park in Gillett.