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City eyes possible new trails

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The city of Bemidji is pursuing outside funding for two possible new trails.

One would be a trail along Middle School Drive from 23rd Street to 15th Street. That trail, if constructed, would connect to the proposed City Park Interline Trail that would be constructed along the south side of 23rd Street.

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Marcia Larson, the city's park and recreation director, has submitted an application for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Trail Legacy Grant.

The 1.25-mile City Park Interlink Trail would cost $320,000 and, if funded, the Legacy grant would pay 80 percent of project costs, according to Larson. The city will be notified in January if the project is funded.

Meanwhile, Craig Gray, the city's public works director/city engineer, is submitting an application for partial funding for the Middle School Drive Trail through the Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2014.

If the Middle School Drive Trail is selected for funding through District 2 of MnDOT, that agency would pay 80 percent of the $212,000 trail, according to Gray.

The total cost of the trail will be about $265,000, but the funds are not eligible for design costs.

The city's share would then be between $80,000 and $85,000.

The Bemidji City Council on Monday considered a resolution of support of the Middle School Drive Trail. While voting unanimously to approve it, there were some concerns about whether the council was comfortable allocating 20- percent worth of local dollars for 2014 when it does not know what the budget scenario will be then.

"I don't see the budget picture improving a lot," said Councilor Roger Hellquist.

Gray said the city will have through December 2012 to decide whether to accept the funds, if they are awarded to Bemidji.

Councilor Jerry Downs noted that staff should consider whether local funds could come from the Safe Routes to Schools program.

Gray said Larson is looking into that.

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