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Time for a moratorium on new trails in the county

To the Editor:
Continuing a trend that started at the March 8 annual township meetings, 10 of the 14 McLeod County townships have now approved a resolution asking the county board of commissioners to suspend further bike trail efforts and spending for three years, until the costs and benefits of the recently paved Luce Line Trail are better understood. A two-thirds super-majority of the townships are asking the county commissioners not to rush to approve the newly released “McLeod County Draft Trails Plan,” but to take more time to consider. The (stacked) trail committee itself spent over one year working on this plan.
How about giving the public a chance to read and debate the proposed trail plan before rushing a vote by the commissioners on May 3? Spring is always a hectic time of year. Farmers, for example, are busy with planting and can’t just drop everything to read through this 84-page trail plan. This is not a life-threatening issue that requires action now — unless someone is trying to pull a fast one on us (as many suspect) to lock us into more spending by the county. Honestly, unless you’re a Hutchinson bike trail enthusiast or a government watchdog, you might not even realize there’s an effort to spend taxpayer funds on this.
Last year the McLeod County Commissioners, by a split 3 to 2 vote, kicked off this new effort to create another paved bike trail to Hutchinson. It was the three Hutchinson commissioners who voted yes. The 3rd District, including Stewart where I live, is represented on the Trail Committee by the former mayor of Hutchinson and a current Hutchinson City Council member (both well connected Hutchinson bike trail enthusiasts). Instead of ramrodding this through and forcing another paved bike trail on the county, the commissioners are being asked to listen to the majority of township boards and to give the county more time to understand the benefits and costs of the current Luce Line Trail.
It’s time to take a timeout on new paved trails for the good of the overall county, and especially for the over 99 precent who are not well-connected Hutchinson bike trail enthusiasts. These trail plans affect our backyards, farms and land that in many cases have been in families for generations. We ask that you not trivialize or ignore our concerns. Aren’t our commissioners expected to represent the entire county of McLeod?
Kevin Masrud
Stewart