Since we haven't seen anything much of a House bonding bill, we can't speak to its contents compared to the narrowly defeated Senate bonding bill described in Vicki Gerdes' story, Bonding bill failure puts Northland Trail in limbo in the DL Online.
Support for the trail is bi-partisan, but Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston, is against it, Gerdes reports:
The Heartland State Trail project and its supporters thought they were getting a boost from legislators early this past week, when the Minnesota Senate introduced a capital investment bill that includes $3.3 million for the planned trail extension between Detroit Lakes and Frazee.
However, the failure of the bill by a narrow margin on Thursday has put in doubt the fate of construction projects across the state this year – including the Heartland Trail.
The additional funding would have helped move forward a project that has been in development since as far back as 2004, said Detroit Lakes Alderman Bruce Imholte, who praised Ludtke and former DL Mayor Larry Buboltz for their efforts during the project’s early stages.
In 2014, the Minnesota Legislature invested $2.7 million in the Heartland Trail project connection. However, the project faced a major setback when unexpected costs arose that required additional funding before construction could be completed. . . .
Like Ludtke, Imholte also praised senators Eken, Skoe and Stumpf for their efforts, along with state representatives Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) and Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) for trying to get similar funding included in the House bonding bill (which had yet to be released as of this newspaper’s publication deadline).
“They’ve been fantastic – very helpful to us,” Imholte said. He wasn’t as complimentary of Rep. Steve Green (R-Fosston), whom he said has been less than supportive of the trail committee’s efforts to obtain bonding money for the project.
“He doesn’t support using (bonding) money for trails,” said Imholte, adding that he doesn’t understand why a legislator from this area wouldn’t support using tax dollars for local projects rather than spending the money in other areas of the state.
Governor Dayton’s bonding proposal was released in January and does not include funding for the Heartland Trail; however, the unexpected costs did not arise until it was too late to be included in his proposal. The Heartland Trail was one of the Governor’s top parks and trails priorities back in 2014.
The Detroit Lakes area is a prime international birding and vacation destination, so the trail would be a good investment for the area and the state. A Chamber of Commerce representative tells the paper:
“Trails are extremely popular with our visitors – we’re always fielding questions about what trails are available in our area,” said Cleone Stewart from the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. “A multi-use, year-round trail like the Heartland Trail will play a huge role in drawing tourists, athletes, outdoors enthusiasts and other visitors to our community. Everyone is excited for the trail connection to come into fruition.”
The Becker County DFL and Bryan Klabunde for MN House both shared the DL Online article on Facebook. The Mahnomen County farmer was endorsed by district Democrats to challenge Green in November's election.
Photo: A sign for the Heartland State Trail.
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