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City made right decision about Kaywood trail

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opinion Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

We don't envy the Park Rapids City Council for the difficult decision its members made about the Heartland Trail extension but are pleased with the outcome to move forward with the project.

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The city council has struggled with the issue of using reserves to keep the project or lose an 80 percent matching federal grant. Council members were divided on the issue. And each side had excellent points.

To move ahead with the project and secure a federal matching grant means spending reserve money in shaky economic times.

But we think the decision to move forward with the project was the right one. The trail will be an asset to the Park Rapids community and ensure federal funding opportunities in the future.

We certainly understand the position of councilmen Ted Godfrey and Pat Mikesh, who have voiced their concerns about spending reserve money when Local Government Aid funding is uncertain. And we hope they and the rest of the council continues to think conservatively about spending and the budget until the economy turns around.

But in this case losing a large federal matching grant would have been worse. The project has been in the works for a few years already and considerable time and effort have been put into the plan by city staff. Moving forward and utilizing federal grant money will put Park Rapids in a favorable light when it comes to future grant opportunities.

We also agree with points made by mayor Nancy Carroll and councilwoman Sue Tomte. The Heartland Trail extension along Kaywood Drive will create jobs in a time when jobs are difficult to find. To see the project disappear would have been a step back for the city.

This was not an easy decision. There wasn't a clear choice and the city will have tough decisions to make in regards to the budget in the near future.

But the Heartland Trail extension to Kaywood could have a far-reaching positive impact on the community by creating jobs and creating an optimistic attitude.

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