AUBURN — Mount Apatite’s hiking and recreation trail could get $100,000 in improvements, regrading and new signs next spring, pending a state grant.

City councilors voted unanimously Monday to apply for a $100,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreation Trails Program.

Auburn City Engineer Dan Goyette said the grant application needs to be filed in January. If the grant is awarded, the work could begin next spring.

“That lets us do cutting along the trail, widening where we need it, replacing culverts and checking beams along the trail to reduce erosion,” Goyette said. “We want to create a picnic area somewhere along the way and create new informational signs. Whatever we can get.”

New trails would be built on top of the existing system, he said.

The area is home to the 344-acre Mt. Apatite Park city recreation area, covered with gemstone quarries, summertime hiking trails and winter cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails.

Goyette said the state grant is for $80,000 with a matching $20,000 worth of in-kind work from the city. New culverts dug by city employees would more than cover the city’s share of the grant.

“This is just a snapshot, replacing these culverts,” Goyette said. “There is still clearing to do, widening. There is a lot of work we want to do.”

Goyette said the work is unrelated to a proposed land swap between the city and the U.S. Army.

A study completed this past summer recommends that the city take over the 27.5 acres along Garfield Road, taking ownership of the Auburn Suburban Little League fields. The Army would take over parts of the current Mt. Apatite Park.

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