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Baxter City Council removes trail from street project

BAXTER--The Fairview Road project is moving forward but creating a separated off-street trail will not be part of the plan. The Baxter City Council amended the proposal to update the city street in 2016 but to not include the trail component at t...

BAXTER-The Fairview Road project is moving forward but creating a separated off-street trail will not be part of the plan.

The Baxter City Council amended the proposal to update the city street in 2016 but to not include the trail component at this time.

Council member Quinn Nystrom said the public feedback was important and she was not in favor of the trail based on the cost. And Nystrom said they didn't want to knock down trees and upset people. She said they thought people would be in support of the trail and residents were not in support of it. Nystrom was in favor of considering a more separated trail along Fairview rather than a painted line indicating the 5-foot shoulders after hearing from parents of young children.

The council discussed options, including one for a trail adjacent to Fairview for a good portion of the city street. Scott Hedlund, Short Elliott Hendrickson, said the city had the option along Knollwood and Inglewood following Fairview but going west would be tricky because homes are close to the city street. Fairview runs next to Baxter Elementary School. Another obstacle was expected to come in the need to relocate power poles. Hedlund said with a separated trail the costs go way up.

Council member Mark Cross said he thought the city was looking at doing one or the other, the 5-foot shoulders or the separated trail not both.

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Council member Todd Holman, who was serving as acting mayor, said both churches along the proposed first segment of the trail-Lakewood Church and Lord of Life Church-were supportive but there were a lot of details to work out. Holman said he wasn't opposed to the trail but worried about the timing and a tight construction schedule with the street project slated to begin this year. Holman said he didn't want the city to set itself up for failure on a busy street that includes the elementary school.

"We've taken some risks and lost recently," Holman said of street projects in the last two years that were not completed before winter arrived or others that pushed the envelope's edge. Holman said the council will need Hedlund's guidance when it no longer makes sense and when a project may be pushed back a year. Holman was in favor of the road and the paved shoulders. He said the trail could be a study project.

An improvement hearing on the Fairview Road project is scheduled at 6 p.m. Feb. 1 during a special council meeting. If the project moves forward, a bid opening is anticipated in early May with construction beginning at the end of June.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

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