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Trails Committee Receives Support From Supervisors

By Staff | May 14, 2009

The process of creating a recreational trail along the east side of Five Island Lake advanced another step forward this week following a meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors. Representatives of the Trails committee met with the Board of Supervisors during its regular session Tuesday morning.

Steve Hoyman spoke on behalf of the Trails Committee, explaining a bit of the history of the committee and its mission.

“Emmetsburg is one of four towns of comparable size that has no trail system for recreation,” Hoyman explained. “But, we also have two major highways running through our community, and we have two railroads running through our community as well.”

According to Hoyman, many communities turn to abandoned rail lines as routes to develop recreational trails on, but in Emmetsburg’s case, that’s not possible. “We don’t have an abandoned rail line, and actually, that’s a good thing for us, because it means our community is thriving.”

However, Hoyman pointed out that many businesses and firms use recreational attributes of a community as recruiting tools when they are seeking employees. “When I’m recruiting a potential employee, I show them the lake and the opportunities it offers. But when they ask about a trail, I have to tell them that we don’t have one – yet.”

According to Hoyman, when the community instituted the STORM program a few years back, the number one item identified as a need in the community was some type of recreational trail.

“Everyone knows the health benefits of exercise that come from walking or bicycling, and a trail would be a great way to allow people to exercise,” Hoyman explained. “Being healthy is even more important for recruiting and keeping people in our community.”

The Trails Committee has worked on plans for a trail route for the past several years, and has identified the new Duhigg Park on the northeast side of Five Island Lake as the destination for the trail. The trail could start at the boat ramp off Lakeshore Drive next to the railroad trestle and proceed northerly.

“We have met with the County Conservation Board and Foundation, and they have agreed to take ownership of the trail when it’s completed and be responsible for maintenance,” Hoyman noted. “We have to have that type of governmental agreement in terms of possible grant funding.”

With that thought in mind, Hoyman made a request to the Supervisors. “What we are asking from the Board of Supervisors is for permission to use the county’s Right-of-Way for placement of segments of the trail.”

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz, who is also a member of the Trails Committee, explained that some landowners along the east side of the lake are totally in support of the trail concept, and there are some who are opposed. “We need to have the right-of-way permission as an option if need be to locate the trail.”

With little discussion, Supervisor Ron Graettinger moved to introduce and approve a resolution allowing the use of the county’s Right-Of-Way for construction of a recreational trail along Five Island Lake. Supervisor Leo Goeders offered a second to the motion and on a roll-call vote, all five supervisors cast affirmative votes to adopt the resolution.