A route for Diamond Lake Regional Trail (DLRT), a new 21-mile long north-south regional trail that will connect the communities of Dayton, Rogers, Corcoran, Medina, Long Lake, Orono and Wayzata, got a thumb’s up from the Rogers City Council on April 13.

The multi-use trail is proposed to connect areas of high natural resource value, local parks and trails, and other existing and future regional trails in the Three Rivers Parks network, according to Mike Bauer, Rogers Recreation and Facilities director.

“A major goal is to create a scenic park-like experience for trail users, rather than being primarily adjacent to roads” Bauer said.

The portion of the route near Rogers will extend south from Corcoran, continue east through Dayton across Interstate 94 and west on French Lake Road. It will be routed close to Henry’s Woods Park, and go along the west side of Grass Lake to South Diamond Lake Road, then north through the countryside, past the golf course, and terminate in Goodin Park, adjacent to the Mississippi River Regional Park and Crow River Regional Park.

“We tried to find the best north-south route,” said Stephen Shurson, landscape architect and project manager for Three Rivers Parks. “It will take many years to fully complete.” He added that right-of-way acquisition, where required, will be on a willing seller basis.

Noting that a strong desire was expressed by Rogers residents that the trail connect to the lakes and Henry’s Woods, Shurson said the southeast end of the trail will connect to Elm Creek Park Reserve.

Public engagement in all seven affected communities was conducted from June through September 2020. “We had a robust website,” Shurson said. “We had over 500 comments on the web map.”

Stewart Crosby, landscape architect at SRF Consulting Group, said many positive comments about the trail corridor have been received. “People are interested in the views of the two lakes, Grass Lake wetland, and Henry’s Woods,” Crosby said. “They’re interested in connections to the schools.”

Final approval on the DLRT from the Metropolitan Council and Three Rivers Parks is slated for this December or January 2022, Shurson said.

Three Rivers would be the primary party responsible for costs related to acquisition, development and construction, as well as future operational and maintenance costs.

BID AWARDED FOR 2021 STREET IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

The council also approved a $2.6 million bid from low bidder Knife River Corporation and $136,670 to WSB for construction services for Rogers’ 2021 street improvement project.

Eleven bids, ranging from $2.5 million to $3.4 million, were received, according to City Engineer Bret Weiss.

Neighborhoods slated for street improvements include Industrial Boulevard (railroad tracks to M&L Industries); Fox Creek and Brookside Subdivision; Fox Creek Northwest and Northeast subdivision; and Sunnyside and Northridge subdivision.

Funding for the improvements will come from a bond, with repayment through dedicated city funds collected through franchise fees and other city funds, Weiss said.

“We have received good bids since we started the Pavement Management Program,” Weiss said. “The size of the project attracted a lot of bidders. Franchise fees will pay back the majority of the bonds.”

BOND SALE APPROVED

A resolution providing for the sale of $7.1 million in general obligation bonds was approved at last week’s meeting.

“There are two large projects the city has discussed bonding for in 2021: pavement management projects, and the watermain extension and high-pressure zone water tower,” Rogers Finance Director Bridget Bruska said.

Street improvement projects in 2021 will include Industrial Boulevard (railroad track to M&L Industries), Fox Creek, Brookside, Sunnyside and Northridge.

The water tower project, estimated to begin in fall 2021 and be completed in fall 2022, is estimated at $5.3 million, Bruska said.

Sally Eldridge, senior municipal advisor at Ehlers, Inc. public finance advisers, said adding the proposed bond debt to what Rogers has outstanding won’t affect the city’s current AA+ rating.

“The market is very, very good to be selling bonds,” Eldridge said. “I expect we will get the best rates we can on this issue.”

HENNEPIN COUNTY COMMISSIONER

Kevin Anderson of Maple Grove, District 7 Hennepin County Commissioner representing western Hennepin County, briefly addressed the city council.

“I am excited to dive into a lot of investment opportunities to make sure our roads and bridges are being taken care of and meeting changing needs of our communities,” Anderson said. “It will take a lot of partnerships.”

One of his goals is to expand broadband access. “It’s important; it’s how we get work done,” Anderson said.

Mayor Rick Ihli praised that goal. “Any assistance with broadband would be appreciated,” Ihli said.

Another of his Anderson’s goals is to address homeless veterans, he said. “I want to make sure it’s a Hennepin County priority to take care of men and women who served the country,” Anderson said. “I think it’s only right.”

Rogers City Administrator Steve Stahmer said he would like to connect with Anderson on one of the city’s long-standing projects: Fletcher Bypass and Main Street. “It’s been on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for more than 20 years,” Stahmer said “We’ve been talking about it for 26 years.”

Resident Jim Kelley questioned why the Hennepin County commissioners approved a $20 hourly rate for county employees. “It seems like the government is handing out money whether you work or not,” Kelley said.

Anderson said the raise will enable employees to live above the threshold where they would qualify for safety net services.

“It is in our best interest to make sure we don’t have employees who are getting expensive support services, which we have had,” Anderson said.

Councilor Kevin Jullie noted that many of the more rural communities such as Rogers sometimes find themselves on the outside of Hennepin County action.

“We’re not going to get an arterial bus route or light rail between Dayton and Rogers,” Anderson said. “I am committed to evaluating and making sure we’re getting a more balanced approach to how we are investing in our infrastructure.”

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