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Nisswa City Council likely to approve golf cart ordinance in April

No citizens share opinions at public hearing; golf cart pilot project in Nisswa likely to launch this summer, before final trail use policy is developed.

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After asking for a few minor tweaks to a proposed golf cart ordinance, the Nisswa City Council likely will grant approval at its April regular meeting.

No citizens spoke at a public hearing regarding the draft ordinance Tuesday, March 16. Council members brought up different points, with the main changes being to consolidate language in the ordinance. Council members want to see those changes made in one more draft before approving the ordinance.

The goal is to launch a golf cart pilot project this summer to begin to understand the patterns and use of golf carts in the city limits. The golf cart owner will be required to obtain the city permit.

Information gathered in the summer would be used to develop a final trail use policy, which the council would adopt before completion of the Gull Lake Trail anticipated in 2022.

There has been some public opposition to allowing golf carts to use the Gull Lake Trail because of safety concerns.

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The draft ordinance does not include permits for off-road vehicles because the state already requires these types of vehicles to be licensed.

Council members each addressed some of the following thoughts in comments: golf cart parking, golf carts on Main Street, golf carts not allowed on the Paul Bunyan State Trail per state law, concerns about golf carts on county state aid highways (especially CSAH 13), and whether the ordinance should apply to all city roads since there likely are some roads the city wouldn’t want golf carts to be on.

Gull Lake Trail

The council learned that the city’s Gull Lake Trail Steering Committee, which has been working on the trail since 2018, is concerned that the project is significantly over budget.

“We know that overcoming the deficit is a current challenge on the city’s plate. We sincerely hope Nisswa and Lake Shore will be able to overcome this shortfall of nearly $700K in the near future,” a memo reads.

The trail committee sought direction on its role going forward. The council agreed there is still work for the committee to do.

Also regarding the trail, the council approved using city funds not to exceed $50,000 for the survey and preliminary design for the trail. This work needs to be completed for staff to begin the land acquisition process.

While cost of land is reimbursable through grants, the administrative work to acquire the land is not reimbursable.

The council also supported an application for $75,000 in Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Regional Trail Program funding, which includes a $25,000 match that will come from city park dedication funds.

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Trying to clear up confusion, City Administrator Jenny Max and Parks and Recreation Director Amber Moon-Peterson said the city has both federal and regional money, and grant funds will become available after July 1.

Citing a “timing issue,” they said action needs to be taken now to stay on schedule to bid the project at the end of the year.

They also said they are trying to find more funds to cover the budget deficit.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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