Lake Elmo OKs plan for regional trail through city


graphic courtesy Thomas Bonneville A rough sketch of the preferred Central Greenway Trail route presented to Lake Elmo City Council Jan. 8

Planners from an engineering firm and Washington County stopped by Lake Elmo City Hall to lay out the master plan for a regional trail through Lake Elmo. 

The Lake Elmo City Council approved a motion in support of the trail, with no financial commitment, at its Jan. 8 meeting. 

The Central Greenway Trail is planned to run across the entire county, beginning in St. Croix at the Big Marine Park Reserve, down through the Lake Elmo Park Reserve, finishing in Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park.

In Lake Elmo the trail would start at Highway 36 near Manning Avenue North and finish near where Highway 94 meets County Road 17. 

Planning on the proposed regional trail, including open houses and explainer exhibits at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and the county fair, began last winter, said Washington County planner Connor Schaefer. The process began with goals for a regional north-south trail that connects park reserves, as well as other local trails, and minimizes impact to natural resources. 

The planners showed their work, walking the council through a few route options before presenting their preferred route. The local Eagle Point trail parking lot in the Lake Elmo Park Reserve would double as the trailhead for the beginning of the regional Central Greenway.

The proposed regional trail’s path goes southward through downtown Lake Lemo, connecting to schools, parks and libraries.

Council member Dale Dorschner said there is a snowmobile trail on Manning Avenue North and asked the county planner if the regional trail would allow snowmobiling.  Schaefer said the county has spoken with the snowmobile association about incorporating snowmobile trails into segments of the regional trail. 

In response to a question from council member Lisa McGinn about issues between pedestrian walkers and bicyclists, Schaefer acknowledged the county anticipates an uptick in bike traffic to accompany the designation of a regional trail. Schaefer added that safe remedies could include looking at widening the trail from 10 to 12 feet where possible, or padding existing trail with enough crushed limestone to allow a biker to pass someone who’s on foot. 

Schaefer said the implementation of the plan will be carried out over a “number of years,” and will likely be done in phases. 

In order for the plan to be eligible for grants, it needs to be approved by the Metropolitan Council, which tends to be in favor of plans supported by agencies like city and county governments. 

The Lake Elmo council approved sending a letter of support for the plan to the Met Council. Next, Schaefer said county staff will be seeking support from other agencies, then the county board, and then submit the plan to the Met Council for approval.

 

—Solomon Gustavo

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