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North shore boat launch stays

Four years ago it was determined the boat ramp along Highway 10 at the scenic overlook in Detroit Lakes would stay even after road construction is completed, and the city is reaffirming that decision.

The Lake Detroiters Association sent a letter to the city asking the boat ramp be abandoned, but leaders are saying it's safe and a necessity.

When the Highway 10 realignment project started, the city and the Minnesota Department of Transportation discussed the ramp, but said there was a need for stormwater ponds in that area as well. After the road construction is complete and the boat ramp constructed, there will be a holding pond in the center of the landing and staging area.

Because of that holding pond, construction project engineer for MnDOT Shiloh Wahl explained, there is no room for parking by the boat landing. Instead, boaters will have to park in the overlook area and walk back to their boats or park in the hotel parking lot they are staying at.

Police Chief Kel Keena said there is adequate space for the boat landing, but it's not exactly an ideal situation for solo fishermen because of having to launch a boat, drive a vehicle and trailer to the parking area, and walk back approximately a quarter of a mile.

Gary Thompson, owner of Tri-State Driving, suggested putting in a dock at the landing to get boats out of the way for others trying to launch their boats while someone else is parking.

"It's not the most accommodating boat access on the lake," agreed Wahl, but "it's safe," he said.

Besides the person launching their boat, there will be room for about three more boats to wait in line to launch. The ramp will be located in about the same spot, just shifted about 25 feet, he added.

"The biggest problem is if it's full, you have to drive past. Stopping and waiting is not an option," Keena said of the area.

He added that the traffic on the frontage road now isn't a "fair representation" of the volume that will use the road after Highway 10 is completed.

John Holland, Best Western, said a boat landing needs to stay on the north side of the lake.

"It's a vital asset to businesses on this side of the lake to have that access there," he said.

Dan Biermeier, Holiday Inn, agreed, questioning why the topic is even being discussed again.

Mayor Larry Buboltz said nothing has changed since the issue was discussed four years ago, and therefore the decision to have the landing hasn't changed either.

"There's nothing coming up that should change our minds about that," he said.

Also along the lines of the Highway 10 project:

n Concrete paving on Highway 10 will begin next week according to schedule. Although there have been some delays along the way, crews will likely be working Saturdays to make up some time. Traffic will start flowing on the new highway June 28.

n Although a few days were lost because of snow several weeks ago, the crews at the Roosevelt Avenue underpass have "maintained a good schedule there," Hoffman Construction Project Manager Chad Johnson said.

n North Washington Avenue from the railroad tracks to Highway 10 will be closed soon after Memorial Day, and crews will have 21 days to reopen it to traffic.

Despite weather and other setbacks, Johnson said he's "really happy with where we're at."

MnDOT Resident Construction Engineer Jeff Perkins stressed that there is always going to be disruptions with road construction, but MnDOT and Hoffman are doing everything they can to minimize those disruptions.

The next public Highway 10 update meeting is Monday, June 9, at 12:30 p.m. at city hall.