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Trail Project Gains Approval

By Staff | May 26, 2011

A proposed recreational trail north of Emmetsburg moved a step closer to reality following action by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during its weekly board meeting May 24. The action came after a brief discussion and a request made a week earlier by representatives of the Recreational Trail Steering Committee.

At issue was a proposal to use county-owned right-of-way for a recreational trail along county road N40, north of the Five Island Golf Course. But before that discussion began, Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz brought up a question to the supervisors.

“As you know, in the past, I have been a member of the trails steering committee,” Fantz told the board members, “and I helped with a lot of volunteer time and effort in work on some preliminary efforts by the committee. “With this newest effort, I am offering, if you would so desire, to step down from the Steering Committee because of potential for conflict of interest, knowing that I also need to speak on behalf of and represent the county.”

“There would be no hard feelings on my part on your wishes,” Fantz added, “but I would offer that to you.”

A few moments of silence filled the boardroom.

“I think it would be cleaner if you would step down,” Supervisor Jerry Hofstad said.

“I guess I think so, too,” agreed Supervisor Ed Noonan.

“I don’t see any need for that,” Supervisor Leo Goeders said, as Supervisor Ron Graettinger nodded his head in agreement.

“That leaves it up to me, I guess,” Board Chair Keith Wirtz said. “I really don’t have an issue with itbut, maybe, in view of the past history of this issue, maybe it would be the best thing to do”

“Ok then,” Fantz said, “You can consider me resigned from the Steering Committee. I may not get them a letter today, but that’s how it will be, and be assured there are no hard feelings.”

“I thank you for giving us this option,” Noonan said.

Moving into the discussion on the new trail, which would run along College Drive and then head north to the Rockport Addition, part of the route was projected as running along the west side of N40, from the curve to the Union Pacific Railroad Crossing. A week earlier, Steve Heldt of the Trails Committee had visited the board along with Dick and AnneMarie Nelson, representing the Nelson family, who own the lands on the west side of the road. At that time, a request was made to the supervisors to consider allowing placement of the trail in the right-of-way of the west ditch.

“The right of way on that section is 60 feet wide,” Fantz said. “I see no conflicts with putting a trail on the backslope of the right of way there.”

While the committee is still looking at two options for crossing the Union Pacific tracks, Fantz noted that it appeared there would be a workable solution for the committee.

“I would move to grant use of the right of way adjacent to lands owned by Charles and Edna Nelson, located in Section One of Emmetsburg Township, for a recreational trail,” Supervisor Ron Graettinger said, and had a second offered by Noonan. The motion was approved unanimously.