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Paynesville Press - December 7, 2005

Trail to add another section in 2007

By Michael Jacobson

In addition to two segments scheduled to be built in 2006, the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail will now have another segment added in 2007.

In 2006, four miles of trail should be built: two miles from the city to Old Lake Road (connecting the city to the city beach) and two miles connecting the city to the Glacial Lakes State Trail. This first segment is primarily funded by a federal grant (requiring a local match by the city and township) while the second will be paid by bonding funds.

Over the past two months, a four-way government partnership has been formed to construct another segment of trail on Lake Koronis. The city of Paynesville, Paynesville Township, Meeker County, and Stearns County each approved spending up to $80,000 ($320,000 total) to build another segment of trail along the west end of Lake Koronis on Baywater Road and then on the south side of the lake along CSAH 20.

trail map This trail segment (to the Birch Beach Store) is approximately 3.7 miles long, said Jeff Bertram, a city council member and chairman of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail Joint Powers Board (formed by the city and township).

Two sections of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail are scheduled to be built in 2006, and now another section ­ around the west end and partway down the south side ­ is planned for 2007 due to a four-way partnership.

It would utilize Baywater Road (which is commonly called the west end) as a multipurpose road, meaning the trail would run right on the road. Baywater is a Rustic Road, Bertram noted, and it runs between the lake and a wetland that would make a separate trail difficult.

As soon as possible going south, they would like to get the trail separated from the road, said Bertram, who noted that plans are still very preliminary and no landowners have been contacted yet.

The Meeker County Board of Commissioners, in addition to approving the contribution of $80,000 to this trail section, also gave permission to use the right of way of CSAH 20. The trail will be located on the south side of CSAH 20, said Bertram, which should simplify any easements (all in Meeker County).

Like other sections of the trail, the goal will be to have it separate from the road, said Bertram. The trail committee has worked with landowners to obtain easements to simplify the engineering and get the trail as far off the road as possible.

If this is not possible, then it will use the right of way of CSAH 20.

The goal will be to build the trail all the way to the Birch Beach Store, just past the Meeker-Stearns line. "We'll go as far as we can," Bertram said, even further if funds allow.

This segment will connect to the Lake Koronis Regional Park, which already has a crossing from the campground on the south side of CSAH 20 (which could be used by trail goers) to the main park on Lake Koronis. This park - jointly owned by Meeker and Stearns counties, since CSAH 20 is the county line - has additional trails in the park as well as bathrooms, picnic and rest areas, swimming beach, scenic lookouts, parking, and a boat launch.

Additional utilization of this park was a key factor in Meeker County's support for the trail segment, said Bertram.

The Meeker County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved spending up to $80,000 on this trail segment on Tuesday, Nov. 1, as well as the use of the right of way of CSAH 20. The Stearns County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved contributing $80,000 on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

(The Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors unanimously approved this trail segment on Monday, Oct. 24, and the Paynesville City Council unanimously approved it on Wednesday, Oct. 26.)

"We're certainly moving," said Bertram.

This year, then, the trail committee will bid (in late winter/early spring) two segments for construction in 2006, will finalize plans and get any necessary easements for the Baywater Road/CSAH 20 segment, and prepare to bid that segment for construction in 2007, said Bertram.

The Lake Koronis Recreational Trail Joint Powers Board is comprised by: Bertram, chairman; Don Pietsch, vice chair and township board chairman; Harlan Beek, city resident; Steve Helget, city administrator; Mike Jensen, township public works director; Ron Mergen, city public works director; and Don Wiese, township clerk. It usually meets the second Monday of the month at city hall at 12 noon. (In December, though, they will meet on Monday, Dec. 19, at 12 noon.)

They also would like to apply for another federal grant for the trail segment remaining in Meeker County (from the Birch Beach Store to connect with Old Lake Road). Support for applying for a federal grant was also given by the Meeker County Board of Commissioners in November.

If successful, these funds would be available in 2010, said Bertram, who noted that they may have to break this into two segments. Throughout the project, they have tried to do segments in less than $500,000 projects to keep them manageable. The section from the Birch Beach Store to connect with the existing trail on Old Lake Road has a few obstaclesŠthe bridge at the Lake Koronis outlet, high traffic on Highway 4 and Highway 55, and the bridge over the Lake Koronis inlet, which does have a pedestrian lane that might be utilized.

Bertram - who thanked all the people who have helped with this project so far and credited the support of the city and township governments for making it happen - said the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail is very credible and should be a good grant candidate. "We will have 12 miles of trail built as we ask them for participation," he said of getting more federal funds.

The final section of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail could be to connect where the trail currently ends by Bug Bee Hive Resort (at the intersection of Crestridge Road and Co. Rd. 181) to the section to be built in 2006 from the city to the lake. The trail committee could apply for a federal grant through Stearns County for this section, though Bertram thought they might wait until 2007 to apply again through Stearns County (which is in a different region of the state for federal grants than Meeker County).

"This is really going to happen," said Bertram of getting the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail to circle the lake. "For years, people scratched their heads and said, 'I'm not sure this is going to happen.' Well, we're making it happen."

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