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Paynesville Press - September 19, 2001

School okays use of property for trail

By Michael Jacobson

Trail on school grounds The pedestrian trail to Lake Koronis took a step forward last week when the school board gave verbal approval to locating part of the trail on school grounds.

The Koronis Trail is a proposed pedestrian trail that could eventually encircle Lake Koronis. The first segment of the trail is to get from the city to the city beach on the north end of Koronis.

The school board gave verbal agreement to allow the trail to run along the eastern edge of the school property. This portion of the trail would run between the athletic fence and Burr street. An easement would be put in place once construction of the trail nears.

Trail committee members Jeff Bertram and Gary Swenson approached the board about using city and school property along Burr Street - on the east side of the softball, football, and baseball field - to run the trail from High-way 55 to the end of Burr Street.

This section of the trail would consist of 10 to 12 feet of asphalt on the shoulder of Burr Street. A 21-foot-wide corridor exists bet-ween the curb and the fence that surrounds the athletic fields, said Bertram. The city owns 12 feet from the curb, and the school owns about nine feet.

The school board expressed interest in participating in the trail project. Bertram said an easement would eventually be needed to locate the trail on school property, but the easement would not be prepared until actual construction of the trail was imminent.

This section of the trail would help get pedestrian traffic from the city to the beach, explained Bertram. The trail committee already has a commitment for an easement from the Lloyd Peterson family, which owns property between Co. Rd. 181 and Old Lake Road, he added. The Peterson property is a third of the route, the school portion is a third, and the trail committee is still negotiating with landowners in the middle.

Old Lake Road is scheduled to be widened this fall and then resurfaced next summer to accommodate a six-foot wide shoulder for pedestrian traffic on both sides of the road.

These segments would combine to get the trail from the city to the city beach.

The only concerns raised by the school board were seating at the softball field and liability on the trail.

Deb Glenz wondered if there was room for a trail and bleachers by the softball field. "Pretty much that grass area is full during games," added Matt Dickhausen, athletics and community education director.

Bertram countered by pointing out that people might find other places to sit if a paved trail is built.

Board member Dan Andersen was concerned about liability, but while no guarantees could be made about lawsuits, Bertram said the liability would fall back to the governing entity, in this case the township or city.

The trail committee is still working on crossing Highway 55. The trail would not necessarily cross at Burr Street. Bertram said an overpass or underpass - either costing $500,000 - would likely be needed for safety reasons.

Still, he said, the trail by the school would be safer for pedestrian traffic than the newly lengthened Spruce Street, which now connects with Co. Rd. 181, or that state road, which has narrow shoulders.

This portion of the trail would at least provide a safer route for pedestrians to reach the school complex and for city residents in the Chladek Addition to reach the lake, he added.

"This is a beautiful venture," said Swenson. "That lake out there is a jewel. If you look at it from a community standpoint, you make points. If you look at it from an educational standpoint, you make points."

The trail committee is planning to apply for federal construction funds again in 2002. The funds would not be realized for another five years.

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