By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE A vote that may determine the future of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail in McLeod County is expected to take place sometime this month.
The county was notified last fall it had been approved for a $647,000 Legacy grant to develop Phase 1 of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail project from Carver County to McLeod County Road 1 on the west side of Lester Prairie.
McLeod County Parks Administrator Al Koglin recently said all of the paperwork has been completed, and was being sent to the county attorney for review.
Koglin said he expects consideration of acceptance of the grant to be added to the agenda for a county board meeting in November.
Regular county board meetings in November are set for Tuesday, Nov. 7 and Tuesday, Nov. 21.
Last March, District 1 McLeod County Commissioner Ron Shimanski, who represents the eastern part of the county including Lester Prairie and Winsted, stated he supports the proposed project.
“Yes, I am fully in support of this segment of the trail,” Shimanski said when asked if he will support accepting the grant when it comes before the county board. “We do need that link into McLeod County, and this connects one more of our McLeod County cities to the trail system.”
Shimanski also noted that completing the paving of the trail to McLeod County Road 1 on the west side of Lester Prairie creates a potential link to the Luce Line State Trail in Winsted.
Lester Prairie Community Development Coordinator Adam Birkholz, who has worked to support the project on behalf of the city, noted there are no matching funds associated with this grant, and the money will be spent somewhere in the state, even if McLeod County were to turn down the grant.
“We’re trying to capitalize on investments of tax dollars that have already been made in developing the trail east of Lester Prairie [in Carver and Hennepin counties],” Birkholz commented previously.
Developing the Dakota Rail Regional Trail is part of McLeod County’s master trail plan, which was approved by the county board in 2016.