River District Development Foundation of Merrill will host a capital campaign kick-off event for the new River Bend Trail development on Saturday, April 6 in downtown Merrill at 11:00 a.m. The event will take place in the public parking lot located behind Thelma’s and Johnson Gifts in the 1000 block of East Main Street.
The River District Development Foundation and the City of Merrill are working together through a Resolution of Support to acquire an abandoned Canadian National rail-bed and obtain easements for a 2.5 mile long paved, non-motorized trail along the Wisconsin River from downtown Merrill, westward to Council Grounds State Park. The capital campaigns goal is to raise $1 million through private donations and grants so there will be no impact to current or future taxpayers. The funds will pay for acquisition, construction and maintenance of the trail. The location of the kick-off event will serve as the trail-head for the River Bend Trail project.
The kick-off event will include brief comments from a few of the project partners and will introduce the capital campaign co-chairs Mike Willman and David Hayes. Large maps of the proposed trail will also be available for viewing and board members of the foundation will be available to answer questions about the trail and the capital campaign.
The foundation will also be kicking-off an essay contest for students to engage their interest and perception of what a trail can do for the community. The winning essay entry will receive a brand new mountain bike that has been graciously donated by Wal-Mart.
Biking is just one element of the health and activity benefits that the River Bend Trail will provide in the future to residents and visitors alike. The trail will be the first step in linking Merrill to our neighbors through the Wisconsin State Trail Network. Along with the annual 200,000 Council Grounds State Park visitors who will be able to come downtown on the trail to shop, dine and be entertained, people from Tomahawk and Wausau will one day come to Merrill by trail too.
The planning of the trail began in 2011 when the foundation organized and received a $10,000 planning grant from the Merrill Community Foundation and a technical assistance planning grant from the National Park Service. Now with the assistance of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, a capital campaign fund has been established to receive donations that will make the trail a reality.
Join the River District Development Foundation on April 6 and help kick-off the campaign that will make the River Bend Trail a reality. To learn more about the capital campaign or to make a tax-deductible donation visit their website at www.riverdistrictfoundationofmerrill.com for details. For more information on this project or to find out other ways you can help with the trail development contact Debbe Kinsey at the Merrill Chamber of Commerce Foundation at 715-536-9474.