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A better path

Oct 18, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

Let's move ahead with determination on improving the Darcie Zimmer pathway

Necessary improvements to the Darcie Zimmer Memorial Pathway got an important first boost this month when the Fremont County School District 25 Recreation Board committed $50,000 toward the project should it move forward.

That's no small chunk of change, but it is only about 10 percent of the estimated cost to do what ought to be done to bring the path up to the specifications its users would like and which the path's heritage deserves.

The Darcie Zimmer was the first of what has become a fine network of off-street pathways in and around Riverton, including the Rails to Trails conversion that runs diagonally through the city, the unpaved extension of that route that stretches clear to Shoshoni, the spur that runs west from North Eight Street West adjacent to Sunset Drive clear to Central Wyoming College, and the heavily used connecting path along West Adams Avenue and Riverview Road. Newest of the pedestrian/bike paths is the southerly strand that connects south Riverton to the Beaver Creek housing area.

As the oldest, the Darcie Zimmer path is in the greatest need of attention. Engineers have determined that trying to seal, fill and patch the damaged portions of the path is an impractical solution. The entire path is the "damaged portion," and the best solution to the problem is to replace the path.

That could cost half a million dollars, and none of the typical funding sources has that kind of disposable income. Raising the full sum would require a coalition effort of local government, grant funds and private contributors.

We are reminded of the effort to site, fund and construct the expansive new playground at Jaycee Park a few years ago, not far from the origination point of the Darcie Zimmer Memorial Pathway. Community leaders cooperated with a volunteer group, and funding came from several sources. In the end, a small army of pro bono workers (that means free) volunteered to do much of the actual construction.

"We built it together" became the project slogan for the playground (some in the newspaper office still refer to it as the "We Built It Together Playground," in fact), and it stands as a prominent demonstration of how something can get done when circumstances require following a different route to completion.

One observer noted recently that our community is pretty good at building things but not always so good at taking care of them once they are here. If reconstruction of the path can be accomplished, it's worth consideration by elected leaders to make it and the other pathways part of a regular city or county maintenance plan so that our investment in recreational pathways is better protected.

The Darcie Zimmer path, built and named in memory of a Riverton girl who was killed by a moving vehicle on the road, was one of our city's first-rate accomplishments 27 years ago. Now, with a $50,000 head start from the rec board, and the glaring deficiencies of the trail staring users in the face every day, let's resolve to move forward decisively and with determination to see that it is improved and maintained.

We can do it together.

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