Highway 23 by-pass receives strong opinions at open house

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 05/27/97.

More than 140 people from the Paynesville area stopped in at the Paynesville Area High School last week to view the proposed plans for Highway 23 and most importantly, the by-pass around Paynesville.

ďThere were a lot of strong opinions about the by-pass options,Ē Dennis Wilde, city administrator, said. ďI think the open house was a good way to inform the community about the project, but I donít think anybody changed their opinions,Ē he added.

SRF Consulting and MnDOT personnel erected six display boards showing the various project areas along Highway 23.

According to Wilde, there was a steady flow of people attending the open house. ďI was really pleased with the number of young people attending. The highway route will affect them in the future as they will probably be taxpayers by the time the routes are decided,Ē he said.

John Janotta, Koronis Hills Golf Course president, presented the Highway 23 planners with an outline to inform them of the problems a south by-pass would have on the golf course. A south by-pass would take out the driving range, eliminate the maintenance garage and hole number two at the golf course.

The Koronis Hills Golf Club recently spent nearly $700,000 expanding from nine holes to 18 holes, building a new driving range and a new maintenance garage.

Janotta pointed out in the outline that the golf course is landlocked. They have no extra land to change the course if MnDOT and the city of Paynesville would opt for the south by-pass. The land to the south is bordered by a buffer zone and is in a permanent ďland trust.Ē The land to the northeast and west of the golf course is not owned by Koronis Hills and is unavailable.

Janotta also stressed the negative impacts the south by-pass would have on the school. The golf course is used as a practice facility for cross country from August to November. During that time students run from the school to the golf course and around its perimeter to train. Crossing the by-pass would be a major safety concern. The same is true in the spring for some track runners when they do their distance work.

The driving range is also a school teaching facility. The golf team as well as the physical education classes walk to the driving range as well as the golf course. A four-lane highway to cross is again a major safety concern.

Junior golf leagues in June through August have as many as 110 youth biking to the course. The bypass would compromise safety again.

Lake Koronis would be separated by the highway by-pass from the residential area of Paynesville. In the summer, many youth walk or bike to the lake. ďWe donít need a busy highway or four-lane highway, separating main recreational areas from where people live,Ē Janotta stresssed.

The city has asked SRF for a time frame as to how soon they need to make a decision on the by-pass route. SRF only encouraged them to support the needed environmental studies. The route wouldnít need to be decided until a later date.

Wilde said a third by-pass option was made, but the city eliminated that one immediately. The route would have followed the present course of Highway 23 through town, creating more traffic problems and closing and changing streets and various intersections.

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