Should massive 2024 highway reconstruction project include pedestrian path to Prairie Lake area?
Should a walking-biking path extend all the way from Pelican Rapids to the Prairie Lake access, on Highway 59?
That question landed on the table at the May 26 Pelican Rapids City Council meeting.
Though four years away, the massive Highways 59 and 108 reconstruction projects are in advance planning on several fronts.
The idea of a path connecting the Prairie Lake boat landing gained favorable response at input meetings last year. There is sufficient state right of way on the north (or west) side of 59 to accommodate a path.
Input from the Prairie Lake Property Owners Association was suggested, since many lake homeowners in that area may be interested in access to Pelican Rapids city by pedestrian-bike path. Prairie Lake is in Pelican Township.
The path would stretch beyond the Pelican Rapids city line, so the obvious question: Who’s going to pay for it?
Based on very preliminary estimates, the path extension could run $400,000, according to Bob Schlieman, Pelican city engineer. MnDOT’s initial plan only extends the pedestrian path to about the West Central Turkey plant. Installing blacktop beyond that would be another substantial bill.
Funding sources may be available from the DNR, which has in the past advocated easy access routes to parks and public resources.
Unless the Prairie Lake route is part of an overall Highway 59-108 project—the asphalt path will likely stop near the turkey plant. The city limits line is at Golf Course Road on the north end of Pelican Rapids. The idea of providing kids an easy route to the Prairie landing sounds great. It has been a swimming-wading spot, and there is also fishing around from the dock and around the site.
Problem: They’re not supposed to be swimming there.
“It is a boat landing…it is posted no swimming,” said Councilman Kevin Ballard. If the intent of a trail is to provide more recreational opportunities, the DNR might need to reconsider the swimming restrictions that are in place, suggested Ballard.
In addition, Ballard has been skeptical about the scope and cost of extensive pedestrian path plans, as they have unfolded in Highways 59-108 planning. At the May 26, meeting he expressed concern about potentially new plans and initiatives, that surface with inadequate time for the city to assess costs and feasibilities.
MnDOT was looking for some confirmation from the city on whether or not to plan for the extended Prairie path.
Pelican Council members were reluctant to commit either way, and tabled discussion until the June 9 meeting.
Meanwhile, work continues on a city-wide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
Three Public Input Meetings (via Zoom) have been scheduled in the coming weeks.
• Tuesday, June 23, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
• Monday, June 29, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
• Monday, June 29, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.