By Lisa Kaczke, The Daily Journal, Published Monday, October 12, 2009
A decade-long hope for a bike path between Battle Lake and Glendalough State Park is expected to become a reality.
The proposed 12-mile paved path will be completed in several phases, with the last phase to be completed in 2014. The path is expected to be a multi-use, non-motorized, 10-foot-wide paved trail.
The trail is expected to have recreational, academic, environmental and economic benefits to the area, according to Don Malmstrom, project coordinator and chair of the City of Battle Lake Trail Committee.
“This complete trail system has been desired for years in the region,” Malmstrom said.
The trail begins in Battle Lake, where an existing paved trail travels along Highway 78 and then Highway 89.
The first phase of the project is construction of a Battle Lake to Glendalough Interconnection Trail, which would follow the northern shoreline of West Battle Lake before turning north to Glendalough’s park entrance. The city of Battle Lake is the sponsoring entity of this part of the trail.
The interconnection trail construction will be funded by a $175,000 federal transportation enhancement grant and is set to be completed in 2013, according to Malmstrom. The grant requires a local match and Malmstrom said he’s in the process of raising funding from several foundations to cover it.
This phase requires a public input process, which hasn’t begun yet, according to Otter Tail County Highway Engineer Rick West.
From Glendalough’s park entrance, the trail travels on the existing two-lane road in the park. At the end of the road, where the park office sits, a second phase is proposed that would loop around Annie Battle Lake and Molly Stark Lake — traveling through the prairie and woodlands on the eastern side of the park.
This segment has been approved by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and will be considered for bonding in 2010. Malmstrom said he plans to host a Minnesota Senate Finance Committee meeting in the park later this month to review the project.
The third phase of the project travels along Highway 16 between the east side of Molly Stark Lake to the park entrance, where it would connect again with the interconnection trail. Malmstrom noted that this portion of the trail intersects with the northern tier of the U.S. Bike Route System, which runs from the west coast to the east coast of the United States.
The path along Highway 16 is expected to be completed by Otter Tail County’s Highway Department. County staff is expected to apply for a federal transportation grant, which is expected to be receive funding in 2014, West said. The transportation grant would cover 80 percent of the cost, or $93,000. The county would be responsible for a 20 percent match, or about $23,000, and the engineering work, which would cost about $17,500, according to West.
The county, however, typically turns over the paths it constructs to other entities to maintain, according to West. County officials said they are in favor of either the city of Battle Lake or the DNR taking over the maintenance of the path once its complete.
Malmstrom noted that the project has received extensive support from officials from Battle Lake, DNR State Parks, Otter Tail County, as well as state hydrologists, geologists and archeologists. He noted that he is especially appreciative of the help from West, as well as Assistant Highway Engineer Chuck Grotte and Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar.
“It’s long been a desire, but small communities — without city managers or planners — really don’t have the resources to champion such a complex initiative,” Malmstrom said.
Several entities have wanted a bike path for years, according to Malmstrom. A path has been a part of the Glendalough State Park plan, the city of Battle Lake’s 30-year comprehensive plan, the Lakes Area Development Association’s strategic plan and Battle Lake school district’s five-year strategic plan.