By Kristen Miller
COKATO, DASSEL, MN DNR grant requirements for widening the DC Regional Trail by 2 feet has become a deal-breaker for the local entities contributing to the proposed project.
Instead, the Dassel-Cokato Regional Trail Board is looking into other options for repairing the five-mile trail, as grant stipulations increased the overall cost of the project.
In order to be eligible for grant funding through the DNR, the improvement plans would need to include widening the trail from its current 8-foot-width to a 10-foot-wide trail, explained Mike Scanlon, chair of the DC Regional Trail Board and representative for the City of Dassel. This added requirement is estimated to bring the total cost of the project to $500,000.
“I don’t know that there’s an appetite out there by anybody to spend a half million dollars at this point of time on that trail,” Scanlon said.
Each of the four entities Cokato, Dassel, DC School District, and Dassel Township agreed to contribute up to $25,000 to the improvement effort. There has also been a total of $1,999 received in private donations.
Instead of applying for grants to widen and reconstruct the trail, the entities will pool their money together to make necessary patches, Scanlon explained.
The added grant requirements would even with matching funds increase the contributions that smaller entities like Dassel Township, don’t have the budget for, Scanlon explained.
The school district, which will be deficit spending this year, expressed at its Feb. 23 meeting that it would be hesitant to pay anything more than the $25,000.
It was also stated the district shouldn’t go through with the grant application process if it knows now that it can’t afford to.
Scanlon explained the reason the trail board decided not to go back for DNR grants was because it didn’t think it would get financing to do a 10-foot-wide trail all the way.
One thing that needed to be considered was that grants require a 25 percent match. “And that’s hard to do,” Scanlon said.
He also noted that the cost of construction, including oil, continues to climb.
“There’s a lot of variables we don’t know,” he said.
Instead of a complete reconstruction of the trail, the money will be used to fix the worst areas, with the goal of starting improvements this summer.
The traiTo donate for trail repairs
Private donations are being accepted to help with repairs of the DC Regional Trail.
Donations can be sent to Dassel-Cokato Public Schools, 4852 Reardon Avenue Southwest, Suite 1700, Cokato, 55321.