Dane County Executive Parisi Announces $1 Million Capital Fund To Help Acquire Corridor for Development of Good Neighbor Trail

October 17, 2016
Stephanie Miller 608-267-8823
County Executive

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the $1 million dollar “Black Earth Creek Connections Fund,” which will provide matching grant dollars that local communities can access through the county to assist in continued acquisition and easements for development of the Good Neighbor Trail starting in 2017.  The Good Neighbor Trail is a proposed off-street bicycle/pedestrian path that is envisioned to travel between Middleton and Mazomanie within the Black Earth Creek Valley.


“This fund will help local government and non-profits work together to develop the Good Neighbor Trail,” said Dane County Executive Parisi. “The Good Neighbor Trail will help keep bicyclists safe and increase local economic development. I am happy Dane County is able to help make this trail a reality.”


The death of a cyclist on Highway 14 near Cross Plains this summer re-started a long conversation about prospects for a Good Neighbor Trail linking Middleton with western Dane County. Early planning and concepts for this trail were completed several years ago (2011) and the greatest hurdle then remains the project’s biggest challenge to date:  identifying property owners within the likely trail corridor who are willing to sell or grant easements for trail development.


The area of greatest need for off-road trail corridor lies between the Village of Mazomanie and City of Middleton.  County staff will continue to identify ways to link public and privately owned lands in the area to assist in bringing this long held vision to reality. Money will be awarded to local governments or non-profit to allow them to work with local property owners and residents to determine the best route for the trail.


This trail is a safer alternative to Highway 14 and would be a boon for local economic development and tourism.  Properties acquired through this new county program should be within two miles of Highway 14 and help connect publicly owned lands within the Black Earth Creek corridor.


“Our northwest region of Dane County is rich in heritage, unique land and rock formations, beautiful abounding farmland, and is an untapped resource to the wider regional community and beyond,” said Nikki Jones, County Board Supervisor, District 28. “These funds help in our regional growth while keeping our unique beauty and natural resources protected and highlighted in our growth.”


Dane County has partnered with several communities through the Partners for Recreation and Conservation grant program to build sections of the trail in the Town of Mazomanie and Village of Cross Plains.  Grants have totaled $513,000 for 3.3 miles of trail. The Wolf Run Trail, a section of the Good Neighbor Trail, travels from downtown Mazomanie to Wisconsin Heights High School.  With the completion of this section, there has been a growing interest by the surrounding communities to extend the trail east from here to the Village of Black Earth.