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Baxter approves fat tire bike trail

In addition to the fat tire bikes, the trails could be used for other winter outdoor recreation like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking all able to use the compacted snow trail.

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Baxter City Hall just off Memorywood Drive. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — The Baxter City Council listened Tuesday, Jan. 4, to a presentation for plans to allow snow grooming of trails in southwest Baxter’s open spaces for fat tire biking by the Brainerd Family YMCA.

Approximately one year ago, city staff worked with the League of Minnesota Cities and Brad Person, the city’s attorney, to draft an indemnity agreement to allow the use last winter.

More recently, the YMCA came forward and requested permission to groom existing city trails for winter bike trail use. Currently, Baxter provides no winter maintenance or grooming.

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The blue line marks the fat tire bike path this winter using existing trails on the property. Contributed / Graphic from city of Baxter.

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Josh Doty, Baxter community development director, presented the plan to the council. Doty said an agreement was passed in 2021 without enough time left in the season to implement it. The council considered the fat bike request in February of 2021 to allow private snow grooming of trails on undeveloped land the city purchased in the southwest.

RELATED: Baxter city staffers, enthusiasts expect fat tire biking agreement on March 2

In 2021, the trail enthusiasts proposed to start grooming at the trail entrance off Oakdale Road and then create trails on the city property, stretching west by Island Lake. One of the concerns mentioned at the time was potentially crossing Red River Road, a private road on the east side of Island Lake, because of the potential impact on the road maintenance. Other concerns included limiting a trail to the east side of the property to avoid a more rugged area, which could pose a problem for emergency services in case of a mishap. The request before the city in 2021 was for a one-year trial run for the remainder of winter conditions, noting people were looking for ways to be active outdoors during the pandemic.

RELATED: Baxter hears fat tire bike trail request

Tuesday, the city noted it didn’t have a concrete idea about how neighbors would receive fat tire biking in 2021 or what safety measures were needed for the trails, the volume of traffic anticipated to use the trails, or what parameters needed to be set for volunteer grooming, or how it will be supervised by the city employees to ensure quality control.

The city Mayor Darrel Olson said since that time he had multiple residents tell him they were happy with the plans this year as the trail would no longer cross over their self-maintained roads.

Olson reiterated the trial would be open to everyone and is not limited to those who use a fat tire bike. In addition to fat tire bikes, the trails could be used for other winter outdoor recreation like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking on the compacted snow trail.

Following the work session, the council passed the consent agenda thus approving the contract between the city and the Brainerd Family YMCA until April 26. The city is able to terminate the contract prior to this date if the weather conditions no longer permit snow maintenance.

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TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com .

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The blue line marks the fat tire bike path this winter using existing trails on the property. Contributed / Graphic from city of Baxter.

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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