Augie Tietz has a dream. The citizen chairperson of the Jefferson County Parks Commission wants to see Watertown connected to Oconomowoc via the “Interurban Bike Route.”
I met Augie and Jefferson County Parks Program Assistant Mary Nimm at an event in Watertown over the weekend. They were standing in front of a map explaining the eleven-mile route that follows a WE Energies power line. The utility has been very cooperative, they explained, but a grant proposal for Transportation Alternatives Program funds narrowly missed approval this summer.
Undeterred, Tietz and Nimm and other supporters of the trail have regrouped. They’ve now broken the project into three manageable pieces of about $1.5 million to $2 million per segment. They’re going after the first two and a quarter miles out of Watertown first with the idea that once people ride that part they’ll be wanting more. They will soon be applying for state Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund dollars, which would cover half the costs. The rest would need to be raised locally. The local match could come from the county, the local cities and towns or private sources.
With dedicated and smart volunteers like Augie and committed public servants like Mary I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we can ride safely from Watertown to Oconomowoc and then on to the Lake Country Trail and beyond. It’s a beautiful dream.