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City Endorses Recreation Trail

By Staff | May 14, 2009

The Five Island Lake Trail has been in the planning stages since The Storm was held five years ago. It was voted the number one need on The Storm agenda.

Recreation Trail Committee members came before Emmetsburg City Council Monday night, requesting a resolution be approved for maintenance and construction of Five Island Trail. The resolution, adopted by the council, refers to a “multi use trail (bike, walking, running, roller blading, etc.) between Lake Shore Drive/North Huron Street and Five Island Lake from the railroad trestle north to the lake outlet area.”

“Emmetsburg is one of the few towns of our size that has no trail at all,” Steve Hoyman told members of the council. “Emmetsburg has two highways coming into town. There is no abandoned railroad for a trail. And a trail was seen as the number one need on The Storm agenda. We’ve been working on it since then.”

Hoyman told the council that in addition to health benefits, there are also economic benefits.

“When we are recruiting employees, we show them the highlights of the town,” said Hoyman. “We have a beautiful lake, but no trail. There is a lot of value in trails in getting people to come to town and stay in town.”

The resolution pointed out, “this area has considerable natural beauty and recreational appeal. Consequently, there is a great deal of existing pedestrian and bike traffic to and from the Lake Outlet area. The City recognizes that much of this existing traffic is school aged children unaccompanied by adults.”

Also noted, “the City’s portion of Lake Shore Drive and North Huron were not designed to provide safe separation between the pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The roads are narrow by current standards, have blind curves, narrow gravel shoulders, and high speeds in places… the City is in possession of right of way whose purpose is for the safe transportation of the public.”

By resolution, the City of Emmetsburg “grants use of the existing right of way for the construction and maintenance of a multi-use trail. The trail would be constructed and maintained by County Conservation under the guidance of the Five Island Trail (F.I.T.) committee.” The exact location of the trail between the road and the lake in the city’s right of way is subject to the approval of Emmetsburg City Council.

The trail would start at the northeast side of the railroad trestle and continue north to Duhigg Park. Property for the park, which has been designated as the trail head, was donated to the county and is valued at $100,000. The County Conservation Board and the Palo Alto County Conservation Foundation will own and maintain the trail after it is built. Goal of the Trail Committee is to have a 10-foot wide paved trail.

Five Island Trail members have secured an attorney and a surveying firm and are working on legal easements. They are ready to go forward.

When asked if there would be a public hearing at some point, Conservation Director Steve Pitt told the council that the County Conservation Board will hold a public hearing. He also pointed out that the Conservation Board is working with the Department of Natural Resources.

In other business, the council discussed putting oil on the dirt road from north Lake Shore Drive (railroad trestle) to Huron Street. Jon Jamison expressed concern about dust on boats moored at docks near Sewell Park. Councilmen Steve Finer and Corey Gramowski agreed that dust is a problem.

“With limited access to the lake, this (oiling the road) would be the way to go,” said Councilman Pat Degen.

Since the issue was not on the council’s agenda, no action was taken.