By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN “I’ve waited for this for 50 years,” Winsted resident Petie Littfin said with a smile as she left the Winsted City Council meeting Tuesday night.
She was speaking about the paving of the Luce Line State Trail from Winsted to Hutchinson, a long-awaited project that has recently gained momentum.
Winsted approved contributing $100,000 for the trail using excess bond funds, and the decision was met with enthusiastic applause, high-fives, hugs, and cheering from meeting attendees. A few supporters even jumped out of their seats, visibly ecstatic.
“I don’t know if we could create or invent a better opportunity than the one sitting in front of us,” business owner Chris Schultz said, explaining that with the nearby Dakota Rail Regional Trail, it will be one of the largest, contiguous trail systems available.
“It’s a pretty small investment for what we’re going to get on the return,” Council Member Dave Mochinski agreed.
Other council and community members also voiced their support, stating that the paving will not only provide recreational value, but also bring business to the area.
The estimated cost to complete 23 miles of the Luce Line (from Winsted to Hutchinson) is $3.5 million. Hutchinson is committing $750,000, and McLeod County is contributing $500,000. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources agreed to an initial contribution of $500,000 in 2013, and plans to make the Luce Line a top funding priority for 2014.
By funding just over half of the project with local and state resources, the project is more likely to receive state bonding funds for the remaining $1.6 million, according to supporters.
The trail will be available for multiple uses, such as hiking, biking, inline skating, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling. A parallel horse trail is also included in the cost of the project.
“I think it’s the greatest thing around,” Council Member Bonnie Quast said.
“All I have to say is, ‘let’s get going,’” Mayor Steve Stotko added.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• heard a fire department update from Chief Chad Engel. The department has 26 members, and has had 234 calls year-to-date. Engel mentioned that firefighters assisted in rescuing an eight-point buck that fell through Winsted Lake. (See story in the Dec. 3 Herald Journal.)
• approved a 3.2 percent off-sale malt liquor license for Casey’s General Store, effective through June 30, 2013.
• accepted a notice of termination from Kim Brandenburg of her janitorial contract with the city, effective Nov. 18.
• directed staff to begin the airport consultation selection process for the Winsted Municipal Airport. The city is satisfied with its current services provided by Bolton & Menk, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that airports receiving federal funding go through a request for proposals every five years.
• approved a three-year contract with Mathews Lawn Service of Lester Prairie for the city’s lawn care needs. At $17,999 per year, the bid from Mathews Lawn Service was significantly lower than the bid from Hot Lawns of Waverly, at $37,193. The city has contracted with Mathews Lawn Service for many years.
• adopted a resolution approving appointments to the newly reorganized public works department. Instead of having two maintenance leads and one maintenance worker, the department now includes one maintenance supervisor and two maintenance workers. The change is projected to save the city about $7,000 in the next four years.
• scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. to consider annexing land on the edge of Winsted Township owned by Millerbernd Manufacturing. The annexation will accommodate a building addition and minimum setbacks.