Trails meeting shows need for plan to be implemented for the county
SPICER -- It's an easy assumption: Paved bike trails connecting the communities, lakes and parks throughout Kandiyohi County and beyond would be a significant economic and tourism asset. But many questions remain, such as where will the trails be...
SPICER -- It's an easy assumption: Paved bike trails connecting the communities, lakes and parks throughout Kandiyohi County and beyond would be a significant economic and tourism asset. But many questions remain, such as where will the trails be? Who will plan the trails? How much funding is needed to make the trails a reality?
Those and other questions were discussed by the city councils of Spicer and New London at a joint meeting Tuesday.
The cities have agreed to work together to develop a comprehensive regional bike plan.
They also agreed that stakeholders from other communities in the county need to be involved in the discussion and formulation of a county trail plan.
Laurie Young, a DNR trail planner who facilitated the meeting, told the group that an ad hoc committee could be created to begin the process of making a county plan.
The participants agreed and plan to contact city and county officials about a larger meeting planned for mid-November.
"We need to find the right person to spearhead this," said New London City Council member Margaret Sheldon.
It would take at least a year to formulate a county plan, depending on community input and other factors, according to Young. That county plan would help area legislators secure bonding funds and help communities get grant funds to build trails. She estimated the cost of building a bike trail at a minimum of $100,000 per mile.
It takes community involvement and lots of enthusiasm to see a trail from planning to funding to construction, according to Greg Soupir, area supervisor for the DNR's division of trails and waterways.
"It takes enthusiasm," he said. "It takes an enthusiastic group or else the project dies."
Interest is building for bike trails. New London is working on plans to connect the city and the Glacial Lakes State Trail to Sibley State Park, probably via County Road 40. Spicer wants to complete the bike trail so it would run around Green Lake and connect to the state trail. Residents on Lake Florida are working on a trail around that lake.
Eventually, the hope is that all of these trails would be connected as part of the Glacial Lakes State Trail, which currently runs from Willmar to Cold Spring. The Glacial Lakes Extension of the trail, which was legislatively authorized in the 1970s but is not developed, runs from near New London to Lake Carlos, north of Alexandria.
Area legislators have asked for county trail plans before the next bonding year, which is 2008.
Trails get completed when local communities work with their legislators to get bonding and authorization to build trails, Young said.
A county plan is not a "pie in the sky" concept and can be done, according to Spicer Economic Development Authority Director Jean Spaulding.