For the past couple months, cyclists have been able to explore the “bookends” of the “Lauree’s Trail” bike path that connects Ripon and Green Lake.
Further construction on the “middle mile” of the trail has been stalled most of the summer due to a lack of funding.
However, Green Lake Greenways recently received a grant from the Oberreich Foundation to help fund the completion of Lauree’s Trail.
The $150,000 contribution will be disbursed in three installments of $50,000. The first was distributed Monday, while the others will be in 2021 and 2022.
“It’s like I’ve always said about the Midwest, ‘We take care of our own,’” Green Lake Greenways President Howard Hansen said of the contribution.
To thank the Oberreich Foundation for its donation, Hansen noted the middle mile of Lauree’s Trail will be “The Oberreich Mile.”
Additionally, the foundation is challenging the public to match its $50,000 donation because additional funding is required to finish phase 2 of the project.
After Phase 2 is done, Hansen noted Greenways will push to finish Phase 3, the final section of Lauree's Trail.
When complete, Hansen believes the trail will not only allow for safe biking and hiking between cities, but also make the late Lauree Renaud's dream come true.
Hansen explained that Renaud, who passed away in 2018, founded Greenways and was the driving force behind the project. Her passing caught the organization off guard, and created a renewed sense of mission for those involved.
“We decided to keep the project moving forward in her honor,” Hansen said. “Without her vision for this trail, it never would have happened.”
To turn that vision into a reality, Greenways has had to work closely with the DNR and Wisconsin Department of Transportation because the project goes along several major roadways and impacts the environment.
Beyond working with state agencies, Hansen added fund-raising for the project has been a consistent barrier to its completion as Greenways has had to hire engineers and contractors to make the path a reality.
“Any big project takes time,” he said. “We live in such an instant society, where everybody wants everything right now, and that’s just not the case with a project like this.”
To make a donation to Lauree’s Trail visit www.greenlakegreenways.com or send it to Green Lake Greenways, PO Box 321, Green Lake, WI 54941.