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County board agrees to develop countywide bicycling plan

The Hubbard County Board agreed to collaborate with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Headwaters Regional Development Commission to develop a countywide bicycle plan.

"The park board reviewed this and thought it might be a good idea to parallel with our recreational planning process," said County Land Commissioner Mark Lohmeier at Tuesday's meeting.

MnDOT has committed $25,000 toward the project, and Itascatur Outdoor Activity Club has offered to contribute $5,000 toward the Hubbard County project, Lohmeier said.

The estimated cost is $30,000, "so, technically, we don't think there'll be any cost to the county, but you never really know until the end of these projects," he said.

According to a letter, MnDOT is interested in establishing bike plans in all five counties — Hubbard, Beltrami, Clearwater, Lake of the Wood and Mahnomen — within its District 2 region. Each plan would be tailored to the identified needs, priority bike routes, implementation strategies and key destinations in each respective county. Through surveys and project input meetings, MnDOT received feedback on recreational travel. "It was clear that many residents are looking for places to ride — more recreational opportunities, mountain biking, etc.," the letter said.

The goal of the plan, according to the letter, is to develop a bicycle and trail network system that not only serves Hubbard County, but also assembles solid data on the existing road and trail system and maps all off-system trails, adjacent trails and shoulder widths and identifies critical corridors, facilities and routes to key destinations.

Board chair Cal Johannsen expressed concern that the county could see additional expenses from the planning process.

County commissioner Char Christenson said, "I'm in support of this, but I don't want to see a bike path on every highway because I think there's a safety issue."

The board unanimously gave its support to the plan.

In related business, the county board did as follows:

• Set a public hearing regarding transit sales and use tax funding for the five-year county road plan at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 at the Hubbard County Government Center.

• Approved the purchase of a front-end loader for $154,814 from Ziegler CAT of Brainerd. It will be used at the new transfer station and is eligible for project grant funding, said Solid Waste Administrator Josh Holte.

• Approved the purchase of three Carrier rooftop heating units for the public works building at a total cost of $17,023 from Samuelson-Laney, Inc. of Park Rapids. The existing units are 18 years old, and one was spewing carbon dioxide into the building, explained Public Works Coordinator Jed Nordin.

• Accepted an agreement with MnDOT regarding a detour route during construction of the U.S. Hwy. 71 roundabout. Traffic will be diverted to CSAH 53 for .67 miles and CSAH 28 for 6 miles. MnDOT estimates it will reimburse the county $8,516 for "road life consumed."

• Approved the transfer of an easement from Mike and Diane Sauer to Alan and Danielle Skajewski in Lakeport Township upon purchase of the property.

• Approved the transfer of an easement across tax-forfeited land from Winona LaDuke to Akiing Land Company, LLC in Badoura Township.

• Approved the transfer of a cabin lease from David Boe and William Wells II to Ryan Boe and William Wells III.