Some Baxter city trails to close for winter
For a number of reasons, the city's parks and trails department has found it increasingly difficult to keep the trail network properly cleared and curated for use by Baxter residents during the colder months.
BAXTER — Some Baxter city trails will be closed this winter as the city seeks to effectively and economically maintain its trail system.
Speaking to the Baxter City Council Tuesday, Dec. 2, Parks and Trails Supervisor Alex Hondl said a number of factors mean city staffers are hard-pressed to maintain the city’s trail network during the winter season. These factors include snowstorms, different levels of usage at various trails, resources available to staffers, as well as a number of expansions and projects taken up by Baxter in recent years.
“It takes a lot of time. Sometimes it takes all day to clear the snow and put a coat down, that doesn’t really leave a lot of time for trails,” said Hondl, who noted his input was based on roughly 2.5 years of observation and studies into trail usage during both winter and summer months. “We have to cut back somewhere.”
Hondl said the Parks and Trails department worked out a map of the city’s trails, pedestrian ramps and other associated amenities that designates which trails will be maintained and which trails will be closed temporarily to streamline the system as a whole.
By doing so, he said, the city would be able to focus its resources and man hours more effectively — particularly during periods of more extreme weather, like last weekend — without wasting valuable resources on trails people don’t use that often.
City Administrator Brad Chapulis said blue and red outlined trails would be closed — with blue trails being designated as up for discussion, or more eligible for review by city staffers going forward on account of different usage patterns.
Based on the map, primarily pedestrian ramps on Highway 371 and Fairview Ramp would close, as well as more isolated stretches of trail on Glory Road, Fairview Road, Inglewood Drive, Highland Scenic Circle, Cypress Drive, Wildflower Drive and Berrywood Drive would be closed. A stretch of trail along Grand Oaks Drive is considered an optional closure.
Pedestrian ramps connect trails to juncture points — such as crosswalks — which enable smoother passage for foot or non-vehicle traffic on those routes.
However, city staffers also noted these rules aren’t set in stone and, should the need arise, trails and ramps may be reopened if residents communicate solid justification to the city.
“If there’s a compelling reason brought forward for uses along a closed stretch of trail, we’ll look into reopening it,” Public Work Director Trevor Walter said. “We’re not going to be out there saying, it’s the will of the council. It’s closed. It’s more — if there’s no usage on this trail at all, why work to keep it clear and open?”
The council approved the 2019-20 trail map unanimously as part of its consent calendar. Mayor Darrel Olson was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.
In other business, the council:
Approved a purchase agreement amendment with the Good Samaritan Society for the Whiskey Creek project. The amendment pushes the project’s closing date back to Sept. 20, 2020, as the city was recently notified roughly $1.77 million in grant funding would be postponed until a later time. The amendment enables the project to secure funding for its completion.
Approved a taxi license for Brainerd Taxi LLC.
Appointed Scott Shelito to the lead maintenance position for streets and utilities.
Appointed Alex Haapajoki and Joseph Figliuzzi to the seasonal positions of warming house attendants at $13 or $14 per hour, based on prior experience working for the city of Baxter.
Approved a subordination agreement with the White Oaks Estates project at the intersection of Grand Oaks and Firewood drives. The agreement enables White Oaks Estates to secure necessary funding for development from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.
Authorized a response letter by Olson and City Administrator Brad Chapulis to Crow Wing County’s proposed cost share participation policy for county road projects. The city of Baxter is officially opposed to the project on the grounds it would put an unnecessary burden on municipalities to undertake what the county is mandated to oversee.
“The proposed policy unfairly shifts the County’s financial responsibility of the system on local units of government,” the letter stated. “The Baxter City Council opposes the proposed policy and strongly encourages the County Board to continue with its current policy and properly maintain the County Highway system through the taxation means allowed under the State Statute and proper planning.”
Agreed to a counteroffer of $9,789 for the purchase of property on Chestnut Street for 10,000 square feet of land to be purposed for the 2019 South Interceptor project. Council members discussed negotiations during closed session, then voted to accept the offer.
GABRIEL LAGARDE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5859. Follow at www.twitter.com/glbrddispatch .