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Long Lakers hate idea of road link to Hwy 10

Some Long Lake residents are making it loud and clear they don't want a street running through Long Lake Park to Highway 10.

A few dozen residents came to a Long Lake Land Use meeting Thursday night to tell Detroit Lakes planning commission members they are not in favor of the much-talked-about street that would run on the east side of the park, connecting Longview Drive to Highway 10.

The street has been talked about several times. If the airport expansion is to happen, Airport Road will be closed. Some residents want another route out of the Long Lake area, saying it's too long a drive to Highway 59.

Thursday night's attendees disagreed, though. Anne Anderson said she timed the drive to Highway 59, and on to the Highway 59 and 10 intersection. It took about three minutes, a drive she said she doesn't mind traveling. Many agreed.

She added if the street is connected by Long Lake Park, it will only bring more noise, traffic and drug activity to the area.

"The character will be destroyed," she said.

"To dump a four-lane highway to a two-lane road is just terrible," Cheryl Barsness said.

She added that the road by Long Lake Park would mainly be used as a cut-across between Fargo and Fergus Falls.

Keith Cannon said the park district had spent money on playground equipment and the Eagles built a new picnic shelter, and these things should be taken into consideration.

"It's not going to work," he said. "It (Longview Drive) was made for what it is, 13 houses on a dead end road."

When questioned about the number of cars on Airport Road daily, Community Development Director Larry Remmen said at one time he was told 2,200. Groans and gasps from the audience were voice enough to know they weren't happy with that number. He said later that could be the number at the front of the road, just to the Wal-Mart entrance.

Taunia Suckert asked who would be paying for the extension of Longview Drive, and Remmen said residents abutting the road are assessed, but if the road runs along the airport and city park, the city would have to pay for it.

"When will you know about the airport?" Suckert said, wondering whether the airport would be expanded or not.

"That's the million dollar question," Remmen replied. He said it could be three to five years before the city knows.

Cannon said since the city and county both signed a letter of support for the airport recently, it's going forward. If either were to vote no, that would be the end of the airport expansion, he said.

Greg Holmes brought up the safety issue of another artery onto Highway 10. He said the number of accidents on Airport Road and Highway 10 shows what would happen at Longview Drive and Highway 10.

"Might as well just park an ambulance at Wal-Mart so they can get out there quicker," he said.

Remmen said without having to open up Longview Drive, yet closing Airport Road, the traffic would hopefully move to Long Lake Road and Highway 59. With the increased traffic, he said, hopefully the Minnesota Department of Transportation would respond.

"Our long-term goal is to get signals," he said.

Although many spoke out against the road along Long Lake Park, several went on to say it's not just the road, but that fact that the city keeps bringing it up and hasn't lived up to the agreement when the Long Lake area was annexed into the city.

Dave Barsness said six months ago the mayor and city administrator said there was no plan for the road to be extended, yet here the residents were again, having to fight against the road.

Bill Wickum agreed, "Why does this keep coming up?"

It was a question that received no answer.

Bob Hauser said no matter what happened with the airport, he felt the city was hanging the road proposal over Long Lake residents' heads.

Chris Keyport shifted the discussion to the west side of Long Lake, with the same concern of not wanting a connecting road through the neighborhood.

"It's going to be a freaking nightmare," agreed Kelvin Wold.

Commission member Ginny Imholte asked the audience how it felt if the gravel road that already exists on the west side, that comes out at the golf course, be reconstructed and used. Many agreed that would be acceptable because it wouldn't be running through any neighborhoods.

After hours of discussion on the roads, audience members brought up the fact the city hadn't notified them about the public meeting.

Remmen said it had been announced and printed last year that there would be public meetings on the Long Lake Land Use, even though this particular meeting wasn't publicly announced.

He said he took the names from a previous list of attendees and sent to those residents, about 40 of them. He said there are roughly 130 residents in the Long Lake area.

Remmen said after he redrafts the proposal, the planning commission can either hold another public meeting for more comment (he agreed to send letters to everyone in the area) or the planning commission could make a decision and make a recommendation to the community development committee and the city council. The item likely won't be on the agenda until the April meeting of the planning commission.

"Please take to heart what we've said," Pat Benson said.

"It would be like turning spaghetti into steak," Cannon said of the major change with putting a road next to the park.

Dave Brainard said no decisions on the road should even be made until the city knows what's going to happen with the airport.

Commission member Harry Johnston said he supports keeping Longview Drive closed, and that residents can use the Highway 59 crossing instead.

The room erupted with applause, with some saying one at a time they'd hopefully get the commission members on their side.

Commission member Cyndi Anderson said since she is new to the board, she would need more information before she could make any decisions or recommendations.

"But know that you have been heard," she said.