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Supervisors Ask To See Marked Trail Route

By Staff | Oct 27, 2009

An update by the Five Island Recreational Trail Committee for the Palo Alto County Bord of Supervisors on Oct. 20 resulted in a simple request from the supervisors.

Stake the proposed trail route out so people can see it.

Emmetsburg City Administrator John Bird addressed the supervisors during the meeting, offering some thoughts on the ongoing issue.

“I don’t know that we’re any different here in that debate brings out the pros and the cons on whatever the matter is that’s before us, because that’s what’s happened here. “ Bird said, “I guess I would say where we dare not be different in cases like the Five Island Fitness Trail project, is that our elected officials fail to seize an opportunity that stands to benefit a majority of the people they represent because they focus on the voices of what appears to be a small minority.”

“You were all elected to seats on this board because the citizens of Palo Alto County, including me, saw in you decision making skills and leadership qualities,” bird said. “So as one of those citizens, I would ask you, one last time, to objectively consider the arguments placed before you and make a decision that will positively impact a majority of the people you represent.”

Trails chair Steve Hoyman told the supervisors that the group felt as though they were in limbo and had no clear sense of direction.

“We’ve stopped all fundraising and as time goes on, we’re missing dates for grants that we could have applied for and right now, we’ve lost potentially thousands and thousand of dollars just sitting, waiting for a clear-cut decision,” Hoyman noted.

“We’ve done everything you guys have asked. Right now, what we’re really asking for is we need to know what else you want us to do so we can get off Ground Zero,” Hoyman said. “We need a clear statement – either we can go forward, or we’re done.”

Noonan responded. “I guess I’m still waiting for a trail plan.”

Hoyman replied that the plan has been made public, but to provide exact costs, the committee would have to solicit bids, which would require the expenditure of more money to have specifications drawn up. “If we spend a lot of money to bring a plan with elevations and specifics and have to stop everything, that’s just money we have to pay back.”

“As a citizen, I would hate to see tens of thousands of dollars being spent to try and come up with actual drawings of plans and specs, when a majority of this is going to have to be built in the right-of-way,” John Bird said.

“I wanna know why these guys think they should be given the right-of-way,” Gary Frink asked the supervisors. “Us landowners have paid to the center of the road out there on taxes for all these damn years and you wanna know today if you can get the right to go ahead? I think this better be planned out very good and you better be ready to make concessions. And if you think you’re going up that road where the fishermen are and kick them out, I’ll be there with a damn gun and stop you.”

Frink went on to comment about seeing vehicles on the trail in Spencer, and noted he had spoken with a lakes area resident who told him that rangers patrol the trails in Dickinson County because of two attempted rapes. “I think you’re really blessing us with something like that when you get something they can play on with their toys. I think you asking for this to be settled right now is out of reason.”

“When that road was put in there in the first place, you, or whoever owned that land at that time, was paid for that land, so after that, you do not pay taxes to the middle of the road,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger said to Frink.

When asked how much money was granted for trail construction Heldt responded that $3.5 million in grants and another $987,000 in directed funding to total $4,5 million for trails across the state in the last year.

“$4.5 million and 49 communities wanted that money,” commented Tammy Naig of the FIT committee. “I would think trails are really popular right now and every community out there is trying to provide a trail for their citizens. Mr. Frink is saying there is so much negativity – people are getting raped, people are playing around, racing their cars around, but if the state of Iowa is giving away $4.5 million and 49 communities are still vying for trails, there must be a positive that trails provide. We would sure like Emmetsburg to be a part of that.”

The access for fishing was addressed. “Bob Brennan is probably the biggest fisherman I know in Palo Alto County,” commented Supervisor Leo Goeders.

“I went to the meeting out at the college,” Brennan told the group, “The committee said they were going to put the trail so the fishermen still had access to the lake, and I’m satisfied with that.”

“I think you need to stake this thing out, so people can see where it’s actually going to go,” Noonan said.

“Yes, that would be a help,” added Supervisor Jerry Hofstad.

“I think the whole community would like to know,” Noonan said.

“I think that’s a reasonable request,” John Bird offered.

“The placement of the trail is the issue, not the elevations,” Noonan said.

The width of the trail was discussed, and discussion drifted back to the use of right-of-way.

“If we get done here and everyone in this room is mad at us, then we probably made the right decision,” Noonan said. “It sounds like you are a lot closer now than you were the last time we all talked.”

“We are, but we still haven’t got that OK,” Heldt replied.

“Didn’t we give you the OK to build on our right-of-way?” Noonan said. “We said you could not start the construction until you had a plan we could approve. You can do all kinds of fundraising…”

“I think you could go ahead and keep fundraising,” Graettinger told the committee members. “I have no problem with it.”

“Would it be possible to stake it out?” Goeders asked the committee.

“Say from the city limits to the road crossing,” Heldt asked, drawing assent from the board.

“Stake it out, so we can see where it’s going because we need to get this over with,” said Noonan.