Engaging Public-Sector Partners


Rountree Branch Trail - Platteville, Wisconsin

Platteville Middle School students walking the trail on opening day, September 15, 2016; photo by Gary Tuescher

This project engaged several partners to complete a trail connection from the Platteville community to the University of Wisconsin campus, fixed infrastructure issues, and paved and lighted the entire three-mile corridor.

The Rountree Branch Trail (RBT) is a pedestrian and bicycle trail that stretches from University of Wisconsin- Platteville campus to the Keystone residential area and retail center. The trail parallels the Rountree Branch stream and Business Hwy 151 for most of its three-mile length.

The RBT has existed in some form since the late 1990s, but the trail surface was inconsistent and in poor condition, there were several infrastructure problems that impacted accessibility, and there were gaps in connectivity. This project completed all trail connections, fixed the infrastructure problems, and paved and lighted the entire three-mile corridor.

The soon to be completed Platteville-Belmont Trail will directly connect to and continue the trail for an additional 6 miles, connecting the communities of Platteville and Belmont, Wisconsin and connecting Platteville to more than 250 miles of trail in the State trail system.

The RBT project began in December 2012 when the City challenged the Platteville Community Arboretum (PCA) with a $50,000 matching grant to complete three high priority trail infrastructure projects. PCA met the challenge; raising just over $50,000. While fundraising, PCA was repeatedly asked by residents and business owners about plans to pave and light the trail. This community interest prompted exploratory discussions with several funding sources and a grander vision began to take shape. The City and PCA decided to use the existing $100,000 to leverage additional funding.

Volunteers from the Platteville Community Arboretum preparing the trailhead for the Grand Opening ceremony; photo by Gary Tuescher

Volunteers from the Platteville Community Arboretum preparing the trailhead for the Grand Opening ceremony; photo by Gary Tuescher

It was apparent that this grander vision required more extensive community-wide collaboration. PCA and the City recruited Building Platteville, a nonprofit economic development organization, and the Platteville Community Fund as partners and named the collaborative initiative Moving Platteville Outdoors (MPO). The MPO team included several representatives from each lead organization. They met monthly and collaborated on all decision-making. Each partner also made a financial contribution.

  • The City committed $285,000, sponsored the grant application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WIDNR) Stewardship Program and Recreational Trails Program, and managed project construction.
  • PCA managed the MPO team, held a raffle, and solicited funds from their membership and private foundation grants.
  • Building Platteville spearheaded the business fundraising campaign— enlisting more than 20 volunteers to make personal contacts with local businesses— and sponsored several community soup suppers.
  • The Platteville Community Fund provided $30,000 in grant funding and organized and implemented the residential fundraising campaign— recruiting more than 30 volunteers to place door hangers on every house in the community.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) with Duane Taylor, CRT Awards Committee Chair

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) with Duane Taylor, CRT Awards Committee Chair

Many other community groups and individuals also stepped up to help. Examples of community fundraising include: brat sales held by local businesses; daily sales donations from retail businesses and restaurants; and a Tour de Trail sponsored by UWP Health Studies Department. More than 50 local businesses and well over 1,500 individuals donated between $25 and $30,000.

State level legislators were also very supportive of the project; contributing letters of support to the grant applications and participating in the Groundbreaking and Grand Opening celebrations. The $1.67 million dollar MPO RBT project was only possible through this community-wide public private partnership.

Grants through the WIDNR totaled $687,692, $45,000 of which were Recreational Trails Program funds; it was the only project in the region funded during the 2015 grant cycle. The MPO team raised approximately $780,000 in cash contributions and $200,000 in in-kind services as matching funds. Construction was completed on-time and on-budget, despite weather and environmental delays.

More winners of this award

2020: Maricopa Trail Volunteer Stewardship Program

2019: Duck River Reservoir Recreation Area

2016: Eureka Trail - Tennessee