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Council considers $100,000 for trails

A $400,000 improvement to the bike trail off Sunnybrook Park is possible if the city of Wadena secures a Department of Natural Resources Regional Trail Legacy Grant, which would cost the city $100,000 in matching funds.

Planning and Zoning Director Byron Larson approached the city with the grant opportunity, which allows for an up to $400,000 project. He asked the council if $100,000 for trails is a priority.

Recreation is getting to be more and more of a priority in Wadena, Mayor Wayne Wolden said. The bike trail has high usage and is in horrible shape.

He suggested electric and utility rates as a possible source for the $100,000 match.

"I believe that our rate payers ... are going to take some pride in the fact that we have got a calling card in the recreational trail that can benefit our community," Wolden said.

It might not end up costing the city $100,000, he said. There might be transportation grants.

Larson said timing will come into play with other grant opportunities. The due date for a transportation enhancement grant is in January. The due date for the DNR grant is Nov. 13.

Councilman Toby Pierce questioned whether the Wadena trail meets the grant's requirement for regional significance.

Larson said that Sunnybrook Park has been classified as a park of regional significance, but he admitted, yes, it is a stretch.

Larson has applied for the DNR grant twice before and the main reason they weren't funded is because the trail is 8-feet wide, which doesn't meet today's specifications. This time they've proposed expanding it to 10 feet wide, he said.

Councilwoman Kay Browne asked if Larson was considering extending the trail beyond the golf course.

Not at this time, Larson said. It would be a fantastic idea to connect with Park Rapids trails, but land acquisition would take a long time. That's probably the next project they should work on, he said. Another good project Public Works Director Ron Bucholz is looking into is getting a trail from town to Black's Grove Park.

The council discussed the challenges of expanding the trail, including the time and expense of obtaining and drafting easements. Browne asked if it would be a stretch to include in the grant that the city is looking into extending the trail to Park Rapids.

The council agreed to proceed with the application. The council will consider a formal resolution at the November council meeting before the application is sent in.

"We have to take those leaps of faith," Wolden said.