Lazy H Campground owner seeks city’s monetary help

Posted November 7, 2019 at 11:12 pm

By Julie Ann Madden

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series on Lazy H Campground owner’s two requests to the Akron City Council at their Oct. 22 meeting. Both require monetary consideration.

Lazy H Campground owner Justin Higman made two requests of Akron councilors at their Oct. 22 meeting.

One was for an approximate $125,000 water and wastewater usage credit, which is the amount he spent to connect the campground to the city’s water and wastewater systems. See The Akron Hometowner’s Oct. 30 edition.

Secondly, Higman asked for assistance in creating a walking and biking trail into Akron’s downtown from the Lazy H Campground, which lies just outside the city limits.

“My goal is to really help Akron with this (campground),” Higman told the council. “I look at this as a team effort so there are some things we need to decide as a body together — how to best make use of this in the long run.”

With weather and contractor delays, Higman noted the campground infrastructure won’t be completed this fall but he’s still hopeful to have it all done by May 1, 2020.

“One of the things that concerns me is how to get (campers) uptown safely,” said Higman. “Once they get (out to the campground), they don’t want to take their cars and drive uptown. They’d prefer to walk or bike. Akron’s got a nice walking trail once you get into town.”

“The problem or challenge is we’re on the wrong side of (Iowa Highway 12),” he said, noting there’s been several times where campers crossing the highway have brought highway traffic to a halt.

“When I speak of team effort, working with the town, something we need to think of together — I’m willing to help as much as it takes — is how to get people, pedestrians uptown — they can ride their bikes to go shopping, to the pool or whatever around town,” said Higman. “The problem is the highway and railroad right-of-ways take up most of the usable space (on the campground’s side to uptown).”

Higman presented three options for an 8-feet wide concrete trail.

• Option No. 1: Trail on the west side of the highway and railroad, crossing the county’s drainage ditch with a bridge Higman would pay for; then cross the Searls’ Repair property, owned by Gabe Searls, and continuing on River Road to Hardy Street where a flashing-light crosswalk would be.

If Searls wouldn’t agree to sell the eastern 8 feet of his property or give an easement for the trail, then this isn’t the option, said Higman, noting this is the shortest, cheapest and fastest option.

• Option No. 2: This trail would be similar but cross Patricia Huebner’s property instead of Searls’ and have a crosswalk at Iowa Street.

If Huebner wouldn’t agree, then it would be on to Option No. 3.

• Option No. 3: This is similar to Option No. 2 but after crossing the county’s drainage ditch, it would go farther west, then go through city-owned property to Iowa Street.

Higman considered a fourth option of having the trail go east from the campground onto the gravel road on the northern edge of the Akron Golf Course and crossing the drainage ditch behind Casey’s General Store but this is not a feasible option.

The traffic is actually slower at Hardy Street, said Akron City Administrator Dan Rolfes, noting people use Iowa Street to reach the city’s Brush Pile.

The longer the distance, the higher the cost, said Higman, stating he prefers Option No. 1 now and having Options No. 2 and 3 for future trail expansions.

“I’m open to other suggestions,” said Higman. “I’m not looking for any kind of answer tonight. These are just some of the things we need to think about because I’m sure well over half of these (campers) are going to want to go uptown…so getting them uptown is really a benefit (to Akron).”

Rolfes told the council he has contacted Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO) officials about grants for trails.

Rolfes asked Higman if he planned on installing the bridge this spring, and Higman said if Option No. 1 was chosen, then he would get the bridge in…”financially I’m willing to make it happen, whatever it takes. If we could get some grant money that would be great for the crosswalk itself.”

Higman explained he had researched crosswalks and was thinking of one like is on Iowa Highway 10 adjacent to Northwestern College in Orange City.

He also noted the trail would be lighted with 4 feet tall LED lights.

Higman pointed out the campground will have a guard shack next spring so the gates will be open during the day for campers to come and go but the campground would still be closed to the general public.

“I feel Option No. 1 is best,” said Higman. “It’s quick. It gets them up onto a street that doesn’t have a lot of traffic on it.”

When Higman suggested tying it in with Akron’s Ron Wilmot Walking Trail, Rolfes said the portion between the Big Sioux River bridge and the west end of Reed Street is not usable.

“I’d like to work with the city — whatever we decide or how we do it. The street we choose is a beautification corridor,” said Higman, suggesting city officials make it a street improvement project priority, too.

He also suggested the city’s “truck parking” along Iowa Highway 12 be beautified or moved to another location.

“I like Option No. 1,” said Councilor Alex Pick.

“We have to see what grants are out there,” said Councilor Jenell Lanning.

Rolfes suggested if Higman got the bridge in place, the trail could be graveled the first year. Higman wasn’t in favor of that. “I don’t want this to drag out. It doesn’t have to be done by the time we open but sometime next year would be nice.”

Mayor Sharon Frerichs suggested researching Vision Iowa programs and meeting with SIMPCO officials about grant opportunities.

“There might be other avenues of money, too, when we know exactly what we’re looking for and can go out and search for some,” said Frerichs.

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