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NLS decides against allowing Glacial Lakes State Trail segment on school property

A bridge, seen in June 2012, which trains once used to cross Nest Lake near Spicer is now part of the Glacial Lakes State Trail used by bikers and hikers. A proposal to route a new segment of the trail through property owned by the New London-Spicer School District has been rejected. (Tribune file photo)1 / 2
Cyclists ride in June 2014 on the Glacial Lakes State Trail which extends from Willmar to near Paynesville. A proposal to route a new segment of the trail through property owned by the New London-Spicer School District has been rejected. (Tribune file photo)2 / 2

NEW LONDON—A proposed plan to route a new segment of the Glacial Lakes State Trail through property owned by the New London-Spicer School District was rejected by the school board.

While lauding the intentions of the plan, the board said this week that putting the trail through the district's nature area and outdoor classrooms and alongside its playgrounds and athletic fields could jeopardize their top priorities of student safety and protection of school property for future growth.

The NLS School Board had been working with the state Department of Natural Resources for a couple years on a route to extend the trail from New London to Sibley State Park.

They signed an agreement in January of 2015 to find an acceptable route.

The DNR had penciled out a couple options, including bringing the trail through the south side of the district's property that includes a popular nature area used for a number of classes and other learning activities. Some of the wetlands in that area would have been filled in to accommodate the trail.

Another option had the trail crossing the high school's busy entrance off Kandiyohi County Road 40 and going alongside the the football field and elementary school playground.

The board acknowledged having the trail through the wooded wetlands would be attractive to bikers and hikers and there would have been advantages to students by having easy access to the trail.

But they said concerns raised by teachers and residents about the proximity of the trail to students during outdoor class time and recess were valid reasons to end further discussions with the DNR.

Because the district is also landlocked, the board also said having a permanent trail on either side of its property could restrict future growth.

In a unanimous vote Monday, the board agreed to rescind its earlier agreement with the DNR.

Funding for the trail was included in the 2016 bonding bill, but that bill was not approved this year by the Legislature.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750
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