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Trail could link Detroit Lakes to Detroit Mounain

The Becker County Board is teaming up with the City of Detroit Lakes and the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area to bring a little more recreation to the area.

Tuesday morning, the county commissioners approved supporting a grant application with the city for funding on a multi-use trail stretching 2.7 miles from Detroit Mountain to the tunnel at Highway 10. The tunnel will eventually be linked to the Heartland Trail extension between Detroit Lakes and Frazee.

The grant would also allow funds to develop Mountain View County Park, possibly adding restroom facilities and a parking area.

“This is really big to recreation entities available in Becker County,” Detroit Lakes Community Development Director Larry Remmen said. “The Legacy (committee) is looking for a ‘wow’ project for outstate, and I think this is it.”

He told the commissioners that the city is willing to be the sponsor for the grant application and to draft the application.

With the application and granting of funds, the county would have to commit to 20 years of maintenance to the park and trail.

DMRA President Mark Fritz said that Cunuya Country State Recreation Area depends on volunteers for a lot of its maintenance.

“We can’t pretend there’s no maintenance because there is,” Remmen said, but agreed that utilizing volunteers is important.

He added that the city has already dedicated $800,000 to the mountain project and it would be helpful if the county could commit some funds to at least the park area, too.

County Engineer Jim Olson said that he hadn’t taken a detailed look at the plan, but that he’s comfortable with the rough figures so far.

“I think it’s feasible,” he said.

He said the county would likely need easements from some property owners, but it’s not to the point of contacting those people yet.

Some estimates for portions of the project include $100,000 for a crossing at the BNSF railroad and $200,000 for some lighting at the crossing, which would be split 50 percent MnDOT, 25 percent county and 25 percent city.

Another plan would include crossing County Road 54 via an underpass since sight lines on the road are so poor. That option includes a bridge over the BNSF railroad tracks. That scenario is estimated at $750,000 to $1.5 million.

Fritz said it would be helpful if the county would be on board as soon as possible so more details can be worked out before the grant application.

“It’s important we get all our ducks in a row,” he said.

The county elements of the grant are due to the city by July 10 so the city can complete the application and submit it to the state.

“I’m really excited to work with the city on this project,” Commissioner Ben Grimsley said, making a motion to move forward with the city on the grant application, adding that he thinks the county needs to be more “aggressive” with its recreational plan.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.