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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Township residents urged to get involved in road issue

As a citizen of Turtle Lake Township, it is important that township citizens are aware of the direction the current board is taking:

  • The township applied for two DNR grants to acquire money for paving of Lake Beltrami Road in 2014. $69,000 of State Park Funds were used to prepare the road for paving. After using the funds from the first grant, the Township Board decided to halt further work on the road, against the vote and support from the county engineer and township electorate. The board returned over $180,000 provided by the second DNR grant for paving.
  • The board did not give a fact-supported reason for returning the funds other than stating in general terms that gravel is less costly to maintain. 2006 data from MnDOT and the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies indicates the exact opposite. As road counts go above 100, the cost of maintaining a paved road is 50 percent less than maintaining a gravel road. A road count, done at the direction of the board after the height of the summer boat traffic season had passed, averaged 158 vehicles per day.  When road counts are above 200 per day, which most likely occurs during May to September with the added boat traffic, the cost of maintaining a gravel road is over 50 percent higher than maintaining a paved road. The board ignored the data. Meanwhile use of the road continues to increase, as the lake has become more popular for local fishermen, and the dust created from added road use is causing health issues for residents in the area.
  • The board also stated there was not citizen support for the road. At the annual township meeting in March, the electorate voted 19-4 in favor of a motion to reapply for a grant to pave Lake Beltrami Road, indicating strong support for the project. In April, the Township Board ignored the electorate request and voted against reapplying for the grant.
  • At the May township meeting, board members told township citizens they did not have to be given an opportunity to speak at township meetings. To those present, the tone of the township board was threatening and intimidating. They do not seem to want anyone speaking in disagreement with the board’s actions.    
  • I encourage township citizens to get involved. The current board is not interested in hearing the voice of its citizens.

    Dave Haskin

    Bemidji

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