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County Board votes 3-2 for Dakota Trail engineering study

The McLeod County Board, on a 3-2 vote Tuesday morning, approved spending up to $50,000 for an engineering study of the 15 miles of the Dakota Trail between Ranch Avenue in Hutchinson and County Road 1 in Lester Prairie.
Voting against the motion were commissioners Doug Krueger, who acknowledged the need for the study but questioned the timing, and Ron Shimanski, who indicated that other parties should pay for the study.
The intent of the study is to identify areas in need of improvement prior to applying for more Legacy Fund grant funding to make those improvements.
Krueger said he has a hard time spending $50,000 when the county has so many other things going that will cost money, citing the Keystone study that will result in salary adjustments, the possible purchase of the Jungclaus building in Glencoe, and a 35 percent increase in health insurance premiums.
“It’s just not responsible to pull the trigger on this thing right now,” said Krueger. He said he agrees that a study is the next logical step for improvements to the trail, but said the county has other priorities.
Krueger said that between his agreement that a study should be done, and his voting for some improvements to the Luce Line Trail “because the DNR wouldn’t do it, my constituency has been rattling my phone.”
Commissioner Joe Nagel said he also has been getting calls and visits about the issue, but many were in favor of the study. Some of those calls supporting the study, Nagel added, came from people who are traditionally against trail issues.
“People are tired of the conservations going around in circles,” said Nagel.
Commissioner Ron Shimanski asked questions about the ownership of the trail. The Dakota is owned by the Dakota Rail Authority, and is leased to the Department of Natural Resources and, in the future, would be leased to McLeod County.
Shimanski said he felt that the rail authority should pay for the cost of the study.
For more about the issue, see the Sept. 6 print edition of The Chronicle.