County signs draft purchase agreement for Itasca-Heartland trailhead

Following a closed session Tuesday morning, the Hubbard County Board approved a draft purchase agreement for a five-acre parcel for sale at the intersection of the Heartland Trail and CSAH 4.

This location is the proposed trailhead for the proposed Itasca-Heartland Connection Trail. For a decade, a citizen-led committee has been developing a multiple-purpose trail connecting Itasca State Park with the Heartland Trail. They say this new trailhead would offer safe access along with parking and other amenities for existing trail users. Current users are often parking at an unsafe location along CSAH 4.

County commissioners also approved a letter of support for the Itasca-Heartland extension.

State Sen. Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids) and Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji) are sponsoring bills at the Minnesota Legislature seeking a $3.8 million appropriation for the first phase of the project: a 1.75-mile trail from the Itasca State Park contact station to U.S. Hwy. 71, a tunnel under the highway and a 1.96-mile trail east of the tunnel toward Emmaville, where it would connect with an existing snowmobile trail. Any remaining funds would be used for the trailhead at the proposed trail’s southern junction with the Heartland Trail.

The county’s letter says the 25-mile Itasca-Heartland Connection Trail “will be a distinctive addition to the state trail network in the Park Rapids lakes area, connecting the Heartland and Paul Bunyan state trails to Itasca State Park and the MIssissippi River Trail.”


The letter continues, “This segment, primarily on county tax-forfeited land, will add a recreational amenity to the area, increase tourism and accentuate the already popular Itasca State Park and Heartland State Trail. County residents will experience positive health and economic benefits from the trail.”

In other business, the county board did as follows:

  • Approved the city of Park Rapids’ request for $2,500 to complete soil borings on four city-owned tennis courts at Depot Park. The city and the Park Rapids Tennis Association are replacing the courts at an estimated cost of $350,000, according to a letter from Park Rapids Facilities Superintendent Chris Fieldsend. The soil borings, estimated at $4,000 to $5,000, are a preliminary stage of the project. The city received a $2,500 grant from the Park Rapids Community Fund for half of the cost.

  • Accepted the $1,542,420 bid from Anderson Brothers Construction of Brainerd for work on CSAH 2 in Nevis, CSAH 18 in Park Rapids, city of Nevis streets and Henrietta and Hubbard township roads.

  • Accepted the low quote of $105,559 from Bert’s Truck Equipment of Moorhead for snow plow equipment and a dump box for the county highway department’s tandem snow plow truck.

  • Accepted Reierson Construction, Inc. of Bemidji’s low quote for road work in the city of Laporte. County Highway Engineer Jed Nordin said there are erosion issues near the grocery store. The project bid was $87,846.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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