Construction has begun on the David and Rita Nelson Family Heritage Crossing, a multi-use, 1,100 ft. pedestrian bridge over the Fox River that will connect Heesakker Park in Little Chute and a new trail in Kaukauna, as well as further connect the network of more than 100 miles of trails throughout the Fox Cities. The project has received support from multiple community organizations, municipalities, and other donors, including a Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau (FCCVB) Tourism Development Grant for $250,000 and $650,000 from the trestle's lead gift and namesake, the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund with the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.
This latest trail development project is part of the more than $1 million the FCCVB has granted to trail projects in its 19-community region over the years.
Fox Cities visitors indicate outdoor recreation as one of the top activities they participate in when visiting the region, and it also is one of the most highly cited drivers of tourism statewide. Trail development and enhanced outdoor recreation opportunities not only benefit visitors and drive tourism, but they simultaneously improve quality of life and recreation opportunities for locals.
"Trails open and connect our visitors to our community. Visitors want to experience and get a glimpse of life as a local while visiting, and trails allow them to get out into our area ... both for exploring and relaxing." Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau (FCCVB) Executive Director Pam Seidl said earlier this year during a presentation to Fox Cities Greenways, Inc. about the FCCVB's ongoing contributions to trail development throughout the Fox Cities.
The FCCVB awards grant funds to trail projects that meet some, or all, of the following criteria: are unique or unusual crossings that are key to the success of a particular project; are on a segment of a state trail or connects to a state trail; located near Fox Cities hotels and connects guests to attractions; provide year-round use opportunities; are unique in the state or increases accessibility of water for its users; and supplement existing financial commitments.
In addition to the David and Rita Nelson Family Heritage Crossing, completed or current projects having received grant funds include:
- Pedestrian Bicycle Underpass (Hwy. 441 project)
- Pedestrian Overpass (Hwy. 41, Grand Chute)
- Riverwalk Project (Neenah)
- Fox River Mall Trail & Bridge
- Fox Cities Trestle
- “Little Trestle” (Neenah Slough)
- Loop the Lake (the remaining trestles)
- Province Terrace Trail Expansion
Since its inception in 1986, the FCCVB has awarded more than $8 million in grants through the Tourism Development Grant program. Grant values range from $1,000 to $1,000,000 in value and, in addition to trail development, have benefited arts and cultural venues and exhibits; large-scale events; and more.
The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Village of Little Chute, and City of Kaukauna hosted an official groundbreaking and naming press conference on August 18, 2020 with media and other supporting organizations, including the FCCVB, in attendance.
Banner Image: David and Rita Nelson Family Heritage Crossing Rendering | PC: GRAEF