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$200,000 grant will help build two sections of NEAT trail

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

North Evergreen continues to get an activity trail, piece by piece thanks to a recent $200,000 grant.

Two more pieces of the trail are expected to be built in the summer of 2009: One will link Evergreen Middle School and Bergen Meadow Elementary along Hiwan Drive; the other will link two other portions of the trail between the crosswalks on Bergen Parkway.

Great Outdoors Colorado has awarded Jefferson County Highways and Transportation a $200,000 grant in conjunction with North Evergreen Activity Trails, to build these portions of the trail, said Liz Cohen, president of NEAT.

The entire project will cost $400,000, with half coming from the grant. NEAT has raised $65,000 in private donations, and the Jefferson County commissioners have been asked to budget $50,000 toward the project. The rest will come from in-kind donations.

NEAT did all the heavy lifting by doing the grant application, said Jeanie Rossillon, assistant director of highways and transportation for Jefferson County. The partnership between NEAT and Jeffco works really well.

Rossillon explained that the county is able to apply for grants since private groups such as NEAT arent eligible.

Peggy Miller, principal at Bergen Meadow Elementary School, said she was happy with the news that the trail will be built between her school and the middle school.

We have a lot of middle school students with siblings at the Bergens, Miller said. They walk here at the end of the day. We try to keep that connection between the middle school kids and our kids. We need a safe way for them to get here.

The goal of NEAT is to make North Evergreen a walkable community, Cohen said. We want to link schools, the recreation center and commerce into a pedestrian village.

NEATs master plan shows a concrete trail linking Evergreen Middle School to the Buchanan Park Recreation Center through the Bergen Park business district and continuing north to Bergen Valley Elementary School, Cohen said.

NEAT formed five years ago out of concern for kids safety, Cohen said, but it has grown into an effort that makes sense for a healthy environment.

Cohen was enthused about the support NEAT has received from the county.

I cant emphasize how supportive Jefferson County has been, Cohen said. Jeffco has been the anchor for us to get the funding. They sent in a great application, so it was seen favorably by Great Outdoors Colorado.

Miller said the trails help everyone in the North Evergreen community get around without necessarily getting in their cars.

There are so many kids in this community who should and do walk to where they want to go and dont depend on rides, Miller said. We need to have safer ways for them to get places. The trails will help our kids be independent.