Renville County has questions on OHV park

OLIVIA -- Renville County's Board of Commissioners still has questions it wants answered before members make a decision on whether or not to develop an off-highway vehicle park.

OLIVIA -- Renville County's Board of Commissioners still has questions it wants answered before members make a decision on whether or not to develop an off-highway vehicle park.

The commissioners said Tuesday that they want updated cost estimates for the project. They also want to know whether use of the site by a lease holder, Duininck Bros. Construction of Prinsburg, would accommodate development of the park.

Two years ago, the county had rejected more than $200,000 in federal and state grant funds to acquire and develop an off-highway vehicle park in a gravel pit located in Section 35 of Henryville Township near Beaver Falls County Park. Rural residents near the site opposed the project and continue to do so.

However, support for the project by the Redwood Area Trail Tamers, a newly formed off-highway vehicle club, has led the commissioners to reconsider the project.

Despite the earlier rejection, the county still would be eligible for $100,000 in federal recreational trail money and $125,000 in state trail money to develop the site, according to Mark Erickson, county director of environment and community.


Erickson said his office believes that development of the park would benefit the county and reduce problems currently associated with the site. Although the gravel pit is privately owned, it is a popular destination for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts. Neighbors complain of a variety of noise and trespassing problems related to what was termed "renegade'' use.

Its designation as an off-highway vehicle park would allow the county to provide regular law enforcement services at the site, according to Erickson. If developed as a park, a perimeter fence would be erected to prevent the trespassing problems that have troubled neighbors. Also, rules would be enforced that would ban dirt bikes and four-wheelers that do not have exhaust systems that reduce noise.

The commissioners said they are concerned whether the available grant funds would cover the county's costs for developing the site. They noted that the original cost estimates were more than two years old.

They also noted that Duininck Bros. Construction has four years remaining on its lease to mine gravel there. If the county accepted the grants, it would have two years to develop the site, according to Erickson.

He told the commissioners that the county has not made any headway at this point in learning from Duininck Bros. whether its plans for the site would accommodate development of the park in the next two years.

The commissioners said they did not want to see money invested in developing trails, only to have the work ripped up as mining activities progress.

Residents near the site attended the meeting on Tuesday and they continue to express their concerns about the possible development. Darlene Konz, who lives near the site, told the commissioners she is concerned about the park's use being expanded to include four-wheel drive pickups. She also distributed a written list of concerns to the commissioners, citing possible noise, safety and law enforcement problems, along with possible harm to wildlife and the environment.

The county currently owns 40 acres of the site. The owner of the remaining 157 acres sought for the park has expressed a willingness to sell, according to information previously presented to the board.

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