Trail project moving forward [UPDATED]Published 10:58am Tuesday, August 27, 2013 Updated 8:28pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013
The city councils of Perham and Pelican Rapids are exploring the idea of a biking trail between the two cities that winds its way through Maplewood State Park.
The two councils, along with partners including the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners, are financing a trail feasibility study. Each city will be contributing $13,181 to the study, which will cost $66,000 in total.
“We see it as a huge economic impact for our region,” Pelican Rapids City Administrator Don Solga said. “This helps Otter Tail County in those realms of tourism and hospitality.”
The project began when Pelican Rapids was looking to build a trail to Maplewood State Park and a separate trail connecting the city to a subdivision west of town. Through County Commissioner Doug Huebsch, Solga eventually got in contact with Perham Economic Development Agency Director Chuck Johnson. Johnson then crafted an application for state bonding money the day before the June 21 deadline.
Solga and Johnson have taken the trail idea to their respective city councils and have received nothing but support. Solga said once the feasibility study begins, it should take around six months to complete, after which it will be determined if the project can go forward.
“Several meetings have taken place, and the sense of the best way to approach this was to have a master plan in place,” Johnson said.
There was an attempt in Pelican Rapids a decade ago to build a trail, but the plan failed. Solga said that was due in part to not consulting with landowners whose private property would have to be used for such a project. This time around, Solga said the city will include these landowners more extensively in the discussion.
“We would hope that activities would take place to talk to every one of the landowners as part of the feasibility study,” Solga said. “So when we get down to a trail, aside from the cities and the county, the state and the DNR all being on board, so will the landowners.”
Johnson said there are factors working in the group’s favor as they attempt to get a trail created. The enthusiasm coming from the county should be a major advantage going forward, according to Johnson, as will the sheer lack of trails in the county. But Johnson admitted there is a lot of competition for state money, which means tough decisions will have to be made somewhere.
Solga said any potential trail construction would be driven by when state bonding money becomes available, so there is no timeline on when the actual project would be or be completed.
The Central Lakes Trail, which runs along the Interstate 94 corridor starting in Fergus Falls, is the only existing biking trail, though a trail is under construction in Glendalough State Park near Battle Lake.