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Kaywood Trail gets green light

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The Heartland Trail extension to Kaywood Drive in Park Rapids is moving forward.

The Park Rapids City Council, still divided on the issue, reached a 2-1 vote Tuesday night, with Nancy Carroll and Sue Tomte voting for the motion and Ted Godfrey voting against the motion. Council members Pat Mikesh and David W. Konshok were absent from Tuesday's meeting.

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The issue was tabled at the last city council meeting after a tie vote.

Tuesday's discussion once again focused on the difficult decision to spend $80,000 out of reserves to continue with the project or lose an 80 percent matching federal grant.

Councilman Ted Godfrey reminded the council that earlier this year council members decided to take a conservative approach to the budget.

"We wouldn't spend down our reserve entirely and we would watch very closely what we do as far as adding more debt," he recalled. "I guess I need assurance that we're still following that."

Also, Godfrey said he was concerned that people thought he was voting against the trails.

"I certainly didn't vote against the trails," Godfrey said. "... I voted against spending the money in this crucial time."

The project has been scaled down from the original plan. It includes extending the Heartland Trail along Kaywood Drive but not continuing the trail south on Henrietta Avenue. The city will need to spend about $80,000 out of reserves to move forward with the project.

At a previous meeting, Mayor Nancy Carroll said she was torn over the project. But she thought it would create some jobs and be good for the economy.

"It was a tough decision," Carroll said. "Should we try to stick with it and use some of the reserves now in order to keep the project going or not?"

Councilwoman Sue Tomte said this has been an important project over the last few years.

"I would hate to see it completely disappear for this area," Tomte said.

Godfrey is concerned about the city's reserve fund.

"I'd really hate to see mid-next year that something happens in this city that we need some money," Godfrey said.

Tomte made a motion to approve the Heartland Trail extension on Kaywood Drive. Tomte and Carroll voted for the motion and Godfrey voted against it.

He reiterated that he was not voting against the trails.

"I'm not opposed to it, it's the timing that I'm opposed to," Godfrey said.

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