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Where’s the proof of economic, health benefits?

To the Editor:
The recently released McLeod Trails plan makes claims about the benefit of paving more bike trails that are unsupported by the factual data provided to date. No bank that I know of would continue to shell out dollars based only on vague projections of benefits. The McLeod County commissioners should not either.
First is the claim of economic benefit? Continuing the now familiar claim that paving the Luce Line Trail will cause jobs and economic vitality will flow into the county. May the taxpayers respectfully ask: please prove it.
After creating 53 miles of trails within Hutchinson, and an additional 20 paved Luce Line miles, paying artists to display their work along the trails, $50,000 in unnecessary signs to show riders where to ride on streets, and obtaining a bike-friendly award for the city of Hutchinson, exactly what is the benefit realized? Can you name one company that moved here because of the trails? Is the industrial park expanding? At a minimum, has there at least been an increase in bike sales, the most logical business to increase because of more trails? Can Hutchinson City Councilor Chad Czmowski update us all on how business is at his Outdoor Motion Bike Shop in downtown Hutchinson is growing? Frankly, if his bicycle business, on Main Street in the heart of Hutchinson, isn’t booming by now, please name the other Hutchinson businesses who are seeing a payback from these millions of taxpayer dollars already spent for trails to date.
In particular, the McLeod Trails plan claims that “Consumer spending at Minnesota Trails (2008)” and equipment expenditures was an incredible $3.26 billion dollars (Page I-4)! Can the source of this incredible figure tell us how much actual consumer spending was spent for trails in McLeod County for any period of time? It’s been eight years since 2008. This should be readily available.
Second, a claim of improved health has been made from more paved trails. After considering the above spending for Hutchinson and Luce Line, can someone present measurable improvements in health for the residents of Hutchinson who already have the use of the exercise benefits of these trails as compared to either Hutchinson before the trail-building began or as compared to the areas of McLeod County without paved trails?
Can the designated committee leader of the McLeod Trails Committee please address these questions?
Jim Bobier