This is long, so I apologize in advance.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I love the addition of the paved portion of the Luce Line to our area.
However, I’d like to address recent comments in the Hutchinson Leader regarding putting a halt to trail paving and the motion that was made to disband the trails committee.
There are always going to be people who are for or against something. From our general politics to what to have for supper, there will always be a dissenting voice. Not everyone understands how great Mac and Cheese can be, but I digress.
I’ve lived in several cities throughout Minnesota in my life. Many of them had access to paved trail systems. While living in Austin, MN, I would take my bike to Mankato and ride the Sakatah Trail, or I’d take my bike to Rochester to ride the Douglas Trail, or even head down to the Lanesboro area and ride their trail system. Every time I rode those trails, they were full of bicyclists, rollerbladers, and walkers. In the winter time, those trails were also used by snowmobilers. For the area, especially in SE Minnesota, the paved trails brought many people to the area.
I doubt that I’m alone when I say that I love the addition of the paved portion of the Luce Line to our area. Unfortunately, a loud minority is trying to change the potential progress that has happened in regards to trails in our area.
Paved trails improve the economies of the surrounding areas. The economic effects of trails are sometimes more apparent, and sometimes not so much. Such as when a business relocates due to the amenities available. There is no doubt that several communities benefit due to trail systems in their communities both locally and throughout the country.
There are a several economic impacts associated with trails. Tourism, events, redevelopment, community improvements, property values, health care savings, and general consumer spending, to name a few.
Locally, you can look to the Dakota for proof. From Lester Prairie to Wayzata, you will find all sorts of businesses that have sprouted up along the trail. I look at St. Bonifacious specifically and how they have grown along with the trail continuing over the bridge south to Waconia. Even in Mound, the businesses continue to sprout up, right along the trail.
A bit further out, you’ll see the Lanesboro area, and how that area has boomed with bike traffic along a paved trail. Trails in the northern part of the state, like the Paul Bunyan Trail, have increased tourism traffic to their area.
The Luce Line is in its infancy. As word of the trail grows and more and more people learn what we have out here, more will come. It is too early to discuss numbers since the trail realistically opened in late September/early October of last year. This year will be a better barometer, and the year after that will grow again and so forth.
While at the state Capitol last week, I encouraged our state reps to take a strong look at completing the Dakota Trail to Hutchinson. Not as a benefit to Hutch, but as a benefit to our area. A completed loop from Wayzata/Plymouth to Hutchinson and back to Wayzata will see an increase in traffic to the communities along the trail. Businesses will sprout up along the trail, and existing businesses such as dining establishments will continue to grow as well. Not only in the summer, but in the winter for snowmobile riders as well.
I am asking all trail supporters and friends of the trail to attend a meeting on May 3rd with the McLeod Co. Board. The meeting is at 9:30am at the Glencoe City Center, South Ballroom.
If you can’t make it, send a letter of support to Pat Melvin, County Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tell him why the health and wellness, recreation, safety, quality of life, connectivity and the economic development opportunities exist with the trail systems. Your letters will be shared to the County Board.
This proposal by the townships to halt creation of more trails would be a detriment to our area. The possibility of a looped trail with the Dakota and the Luce Line would be a unique regional asset.