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Trail construction won't include Kaywood Drive

The Heartland Trail extension in Park Rapids will be much smaller than anticipated.

A project that would extend Heartland Trail to Kaywood Drive has had some stumbling blocks, said John Olson, representing Ulteig Engineers.

"We've been having troubles acquiring right of way along Kaywood Drive for the construction of the trail," he told the Park Rapids City Council Tuesday.

The city decided to move forward with the project earlier this year to take advantage of an 80 percent matching federal grant. However, the deadline to acquire right of way for the trail has quickly approached with some property owners not wanting to give up part of their property.

The council voted Tuesday night to reduce the project's scope to make a connection from the Heartland Trail along Central Avenue up to Kaywood Drive.

Park Rapids has been approved for another federal trail grant in 2011. Councilman Mike Strodtman thought the city should attempt to use some of that money to complete the Kaywood project in 2011. There would be more time to work with property owners and acquire right of way, he said.

The completed Kaywood project would include extending Heartland Trail along Central Avenue, then along Kaywood Drive and on Henrietta Avenue.

Mayor Nancy Carroll thinks the trail is a real asset for the community.

"I would like to see us do whatever we can to get there, eventually get the trail completed," she said.

Councilman Pat Mikesh said he has a problem with the whole project.

"I hear that it's kind of a waste of money," he said. "It's a good thing if you have the money, but if you've got people now ... who are unwilling to give land or sell land, that's pretty much telling you the public doesn't want it right there."

Councilwoman Sue Tomte wanted to start the project and proposed extending the trail along Central Avenue.

"So that we don't lose everything on this and that we take advantage of what we've already done," Tomte said.

"It would be a start," Carroll agreed.

She said she would also like to talk about swapping out the federal money in 2011 in the future.

The council voted 3-1 to move forward with the extension onto Central Avenue. Carroll, Tomte and Strodtman voted in favor and Mikesh voted against the motion. Councilman Dave W. Konshok was absent from the meeting.