By Ivan Raconteur
CARVER COUNTY, MN Several dozen people attended an open house at the Mayer Community Center Wednesday to discuss whether or not snowmobiling should be allowed on the Dakota Rail Regional Trail in Carver County.
The event was organized by the Carver County Parks Department.
The Southwest Trail Association made a request to permit snowmobiling west of Carver County Road 155 to the west county line, a distance of approximately 12 miles.
It is proposed that the trail would connect with Lake Waconia at 10610 North Shore Road.
Residents were able to ask questions and share comments with park staff. They also had the opportunity to submit written comments for consideration.
Parks Director Marty Walsh said the comments he heard during the open house were roughly split between those who wanted snowmobiling allowed on the trail, and those who did not.
Those who were opposed to allowing snowmobiling expressed concerns such as the proximity of the trail to homes in some sections, noise issues, wear and tear on the trail surface, signage, and limited use of the trail during the winter months.
Walsh explained that if snowmobiling is allowed, pedestrian uses such as snowshoeing and cross country skiing would be discouraged for safety reasons.
Those in favor of the trail mentioned recreational interests, access to Lake Waconia, and providing a connection between other permitted trails.
In addition to residents and park staff, elected officials from New Germany, Mayer, and Carver County attended the open house.
Carver County commissioners Tim Lynch and Jim Ische said they learned a lot during the open house and received many comments from residents.
Walsh explained that this was the first step in considering a request to allow snowmobile use on the trail.
Other meetings around the area include:
• Thursday, July 8 at Camden Township Hall, 8:30 p.m.
• Monday, July 12 at Waconia Township Hall, 8 p.m.
• Tuesday, July 20 at New Germany City Hall, 7 p.m.
• Monday, July 26 at Mayer City Hall 7 p.m.
• Wednesday, Aug. 11, Carver County Parks Commission, 7 p.m. at the public works building in Cologne.
• Tuesday, Aug. 17, Carver County Planning Commission, 7 p.m. at the Carver County Government Center in Chaska.
The final meeting to consider the request will include the Carver County Board/Carver County Rail Authority. This meeting has not yet been scheduled.
The first phase of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail in Carver County is currently under construction.
“It is going slower than we had hoped,” Walsh said of the construction. “We still expect the contractor to meet the deadlines.”
He said the county has not adjusted any of the timelines that were specified for the project.
The trail will be a 10-foot-wide paved surface with 3-foot-wide turf borders on either side.
The seven-mile section of trail will require 7,000 tons of pavement.
The official ground breaking took place April 6 south of Carver County Road 30 and west of Highway 25 in Mayer. This will be the site of a trail access area that will include a 20-space parking area, a plaza center, bike rack, portable toilet, and a rain garden.
The first phase of the trail in Carver County will run from St. Bonifacius to Hidden Crossing, a street in the Hidden Creek Development in Mayer.
Funding for the $1,967,439 project includes $1,044,300 in federal transportation funds, $550,680 in stimulus funds, $300,000 from the Carver County Regional Rail Authority, and $72,459 from Carver County Parks and Trails.
Construction is expected to be completed by November.