Hulett: Connecting our communities
Moorhead planners are excited for the opportunity to apply for additional grants from various sources for a much-needed bike/pedestrian Red River Bridge at Bluestem. This proposed span would be built above flood level and would not only provide a critical addition to the community trail system, it would greatly improve connectivity with direct access for Bluestem patrons from North Dakota.
The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission is designated to carry out system planning and provide recommendations to the Legislature for grants funded by the Legacy Parks & Trails Fund for parks and trails of “regional significance” in counties and cities outside the seven-county metropolitan area. I was honored to serve as one of 13 original commissioners appointed by Governor Dayton in 2013.
The commission’s strategic plan includes: “Connecting people with the outdoors” and “supporting projects emphasizing near-home access and connectivity.” It places priority on filling gaps in regional trail systems and connecting communities, parks and recreation areas. All proposed projects are reviewed by a neutral group of Minnesota parks and recreation professionals using precise written guidelines. Their funding recommendations are sent back to the commission for review and approval, and then submitted to the Legislature for funding.
City of Moorhead planning staff members wisely recognized a golden opportunity to match local funds with Legacy funds to build eligible Moorhead projects. Our first Legacy Fund grant provided multiple improvements to Johnson Park. Then came the Blue Goose Trail extending from the Bluestem Amphitheater to Gooseberry Park that was completed last summer. The trail utilizes existing paved paths from Bluestem up to 40 th Avenue, then on street until gaining levy access from 32 nd Avenue to Gooseberry.
Yet another Moorhead project, the Midtown Trail, was recently approved and will connect Woodlawn and Gooseberry Parks. The city is receiving $660,925 in Legacy Funds and will contribute a required local match. The final design is being engineered but will also be a mix of on-street and river levy access.
Why stop there? Moorhead planners are excited for the opportunity to apply for additional grants from various sources for a much-needed bike/pedestrian Red River Bridge at Bluestem. This proposed span would be built above flood level and would not only provide a critical addition to the community trail system, it would greatly improve connectivity with direct access for Bluestem patrons from North Dakota.
Hulett: The Heartland Trail dream
Area amenity: Linear park along FM diversion would be one of ND's largest parks
Most importantly, it would be a life-safety measure for thousands of community bike riders. In order to complete the full Red River bike loop, some users are forced to take a bumpy township gravel road from Bluestem south to 60 th Avenue, and then west on the shoulder to the convent bridge, with high-speed traffic passing a few feet away. It is frightening and extremely dangerous.
Some years ago after a Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce event I briefly chatted with Gov. Burgum about trail development in Clay County and Moorhead. We almost simultaneously brought up the notion of building the Bluestem bridge! I recall that he considered it to be a worthwhile and needed joint project. Hello, North Dakota readers! Your follow-up contacts with the governor and state legislators would be helpful. Working together we might build this critical community bridge much sooner than anybody ever hoped for.
We in the West Fargo, Fargo, Horace, Dilworth and Moorhead communities have never had a greater need to be “connected with the outdoors and with each other!”
Hulett is a regular contributor to the opinion page.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership