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COMMENTS BY KIM: New trail system sidlined

Not this time, not yet anyway. Funding for a new trail system for Minot and area residents has received a setback.

On Tuesday, October 27, the 16 member Outdoors Heritage Fund Advisory Board rejected an application from the Minot Park District for financial help in constructing 1.75 miles of “natural trails for hiking, biking, birding, site seeing and educating”, the description of the project as submitted to the OHF.

Minot Parks was seeking a grant of $373,175 from the OHF to boost matching funds of $156,596 to meet the total project cost of $529,771. The objective, according to the application, was to “provide access for people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to enjoy conservation through the use of trails on a beautiful piece of undeveloped land on the west side of the Magic City.”

The trail system is considered Phase One of a project that would eventually culminate with the construction of a new 18 hole golf course. There were 11 submissions for OHF grant dollars in the last application process, or Round 17. The OHF had $11.9 million available. OHF money is derived from oil and gas revenue, receiving $15 million, or $7.5 million per year, in the current biennium which ends in July of 2021.

“It’s a beautiful piece of land. We will be definitely be trying again,” said Elly Deslauriers, Minot Parks.

Projects selected by the OHF Advisory Board are passed on the to Industrial Commission for final approval, a process that has been little more than a formality. The Industrial Commission is comprised of Governor Doug Burgum, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.

The Minot Parks trail project appears to fit with the objectives of the OHF, particularly in meeting Directive D of the application requirement which is “Conserving natural areas and creating other areas for recreation through the establishment and development of parks and other recreation areas.”

The proposed trail system would be built on 240 acres of undeveloped property that includes natural prairie. According to Minot Parks, the trails would “consist of both natural mowed trails as well as concrete and aggregate trails that will provide people of all abilities to have access to this beautiful piece of public property” and that the land “will never be developed into housing and will be here for generations to come and enjoy.”

If funding was secured, Minot Parks hoped to bid the trail system between January and March of next year with an estimated construction state date of May and completion in October, 2021.

“We’ll be trying again next March 31,” assured Deslauriers.

That’s the date for Round 18 of OHF grant applications.

Minot’s very popular Woodland Trail Park was constructed in part from a grant approved by the OHF, a project completed with the cooperation of the Minot Area Community Foundation and Minot Parks. The proposed new trail system, I think, would prove to be very popular with area residents too. Let’s hope the OHF agrees next March.

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