County takes research road trip
By JANE UTECHT, Staff Reporter
Tuesday's Lake County Commission meeting was more of an information-gathering meeting than an action-filled session. The commission (minus Ron Golden, who was absent) took action on a few planning, zoning and drainage permits, but tabled one drainage hearing until October, when the group will travel to the site of Mark Mergen's land east of Wentworth.|
The commissioners took a road trip to the Lake Madison area on Tuesday to determine where a proposed bike trail to the public access area should be. The public access area -- a former gravel pit the county cleaned up a few years ago -- is on the southwest side of Lake Madison.
The proposed county bike trail would begin on the city's bike trail along SD-34, go south along the east side of SD-19, then turn east on 236th St. There is a shelterbelt grove on the north side of that road where the trail would be.
Determining exactly where the trail would go was the question of the day. The trail will be 10 feet wide, but would probably take 30 feet in total area.
Once on site, the commissioners and Lake County Highway Superintendent Scott Mathison seemed to feel the north side of the trees was best. They seemed to agree that putting the trail along the road or going through the shelterbelt would likely require taking out several trees, which would be an expensive proposition.
Mathison seemed confident that the trail would work on the north side by taking out the volunteer bushes and trimming up trees. The commissioners did not take any formal vote on the matter.
The commissioners, auditor and state's attorney's legal secretary also stopped by land near Sunset Harbor, on Lake Madison's west side.
Dan Lemme, representing Kingdom Capital Fund, which has public charity status, came before the commission with a proposal to potentially swap land. Lemme's group owns a nine-acre strip of land just south of Herkimer Pond. Because the long strip will be hard to develop, he thought it would be better to "square it up."
His proposal would involve swapping 249,800 square feet just off SD-19 for the same square footage a little farther east and south. This is the area of the county's gravel pit. Some of the area is still in use, but some is "mined out," and Lemme said it would be a nice area if they reclaimed the mined-out north side of the gravel pit.
For access, he planned to use Sunset Boulevard, but a secondary access might be needed. Lemme also suggested continuing the bike path through that area, coming up to the beach access at the public access area, and "turn it from a liability into an asset."
The commissioners took no action.
The commission did take action on another recreation trail, the city's planned recreational bike trail from Flynn Field to Lake Herman State Park. The city has a grant for the project, said State's Attorney Chris Giles. The original plan was to take the trail west of Flynn Field out to Highland Avenue, and run down the west side of Highland on the way out to the state park.
There were some problems with that option, so the city has adapted the plan to go south on Egan Ave. to S.W. 10th St. (County Road 38) and continue on the south side in the right-of-way, past the new hospital site.
Because the project includes property owned by both the county and city, there needs to be a joint powers agreement. The county had signed one in November 2009 when the initial project was proposed, but with the new route, a new agreement would need to be penned.
Also, the city is asking for an extension on their funding and will need a letter of support from the county.
Giles reminded the commissioners that the new joint powers agreement is much the same as the 2009 version, with the city taking responsibility for construction, operation, maintenance, repair, etc. He suggested making some changes so that the county would have some voice in the final decision on the new route.
"I think since it's your road right-of-way, you should probably be involved in the decision," Giles said. Commissioner Dan Bohl is the county representative on the Recreational Trail Committee and wondered if the county might have enough involvement.
"[W]ith my being on that board as a representative of the county...I guess we have some input all the time," he said.
Because there are a few sites along the right-of-way that may be narrower than others, Giles said language should be added to the new joint powers agreement and the letter of support so that instead of simply offering "review and comment," the commission would have approval rights.
The commissioners agreed to that, but since the city would like the letter of support soon, Giles said he could easily add the language to the letter before the next commission meeting. To expedite that process, the commissioners voted to grant Chairman Scott Pedersen the authority to sign that letter before Sept. 4.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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