Baxter considers trail to link Memorywood to Whipple Beach Park
A trail from Memorywood Drive to Whipple Beach could stretch across land separating Whipple and White Sand lakes.
A trail concept is to go from Memorywood Drive to Oakwood Drive, mildly undulating across ground owned by two property owners, one of whom is Crow Wing County.
In a memo to the Baxter City Council, Josh Doty, the city’s community development director, said the timing consideration is that a residential lot along Memorywood is currently for sale. Doty said it isn’t often when a trail could be completed like this working with just two property owners.
Questions before a recent Baxter City Council gathering were whether the council was interested in a trail through the wooded county property and if staff should pursue a discussion with the county or acquiring the residential lot.
“The parks commission would like the city council to consider purchasing the property and work with Crow Wing County to allow for the construction of the trail,” Doty reported.
The parks commission reported a wood-chip trail would work. Mayor Darrel Olson said his personal feeling was the trail should be paved. Council member Todd Holman said he liked the concept of cutting across the county land as it makes a more accessible walking distance for people than moving people out to Clearwater Road to get to Whipple Beach. Adding this connection would also create an option of a larger loop for those who wanted to do the entire circuit.
“I think it has a lot of great merit,” Holman said, although he said he was also concerned about taking a lot off the tax rolls as well.
Council members were in favor of discussions with the county. Council member Mark Cross said the city may also be flexible on options on where the trail comes out.
After talks with Crow Wing County, the city reported there wasn’t direct opposition to the idea. Next steps would include an application asking the county to consider a trail, which includes a staff review and public comment period. In addition there would be a Parks and Trails Advisory Committee review followed by a review by the county board.
The Baxter Parks Commission also recommended buying undeveloped land south of Berrywood Park. The goal is to create a buffer south of the new pavilion at the park. The park is along Berrywood Drive, just off College Road. The city reported the vacant land south of the park, owned by Navillus Land Company, is platted for twin-homes and common space for the third phase of Aspen Ridge Townhomes. The council was in favor of the Berrywood Park land buffer.
An updated trail plan, which the parks and trails commission has been working on for several months, is part of the city’s work on a comprehensive plan update.