Board approves grant application for mountain bike trail


For several years, the Wright County Board of Commissioners has wrestled with the topic of the Bertram Chain of Lakes Park land acquisition. An ambitious eight-figure project, it has been daunting from the start.
Much of the funding has come from state and federal grants. At the Feb. 3 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, Parks Administrator Marc Mattice came before the board looking for another grant application to do the heavy lifting for the funding of a project within the scope of the BCOL project.
The request was to submit an application for the construction of six miles of mountain bike trails. The grant would require 25 percent matching funds and Mattice felt the project fit not only the project plan, but was one that could complete a project that has already been started on the site.
“This grant came across my desk and I thought, ‘let’s run it up the flagpole,’” Mattice said. “The grant is through the Federal Recreational Trail Program – federal transportation dollars designed for recreational trails. Thirty percent of the funds are used for motorized trail projects – ATVs and off-road vehicles; 30 percent is used for non-motorized projects – hiking, cross-country skiing and mountain biking; 40 percent of the monies are for projects that utilize both. We’ll be going for that 30 percent that is non-motorized.”
The grant funds will become available in November 2015. The project, if approved, wouldn’t start until 2016. The maximum grant request would be $150,000. The organization Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists has said it would come up with $8,000 in a cash donation and $2,000 in in-kind volunteer labor. The county would pay $27,500 and the federal grant funding would be for $112,500. The grant application is due at the end of the month, so the timing of making the request was fast-tracked. As Commissioner Mark Daleiden stated, there isn’t really anything to lose if the county doesn’t get selected as a project for federal funding or not – even if the county turns down the grant money after the fact.
“The small amount of trails that we have in there now have been utilized quite extensively already,” Daleiden said. “I just see it as an enhancement to the park. If we don’t get it, we don’t get it. It doesn’t hurt to apply. Even if we get it, it doesn’t mean we have to accept it.”
In other items on the Feb. 3 agenda, the board:
* Announced the start date for on-line application for accepting camping and shelter reservations. County campgrounds will be open from April 24 to Sept. 27. Plans are underway to extend the campground hours in 2016, keeping campgrounds open later into the fall. The county also is planning to open the public swimming beach at Bertram Chain of Lakes Park on May 26.
* Directed Information Technology Director Adam Tagarro to evaluate both the former sheriff’s area and former county assessor’s space for future expansion of the IT department. The IT department is currently looking to expand its current space in the county courthouse and the two open sites are all that is available within the courthouse building.
* Approved funding of the I-94 West Corridor Coalition for $7,500. The coalition has been instrumental in getting the State Legislature to approve the expansion of I-94 to three lanes west of the Twin Cities metro area. The coalition requested $10,000 in county funding, but the county board approved $7,500. Last year, the coalition requested $8,000 in county funding and $7,500 was approved.
* Authorized increasing the hourly wage of draining inspector Michael Young from $30 an hour to $42.50 an hour. Young was appointed to the position in 2014, but came before the board earlier this year saying that the equipment he needs to use, the compensation he agreed to, simply didn’t cover his own costs sufficiently. He felt $60 an hour was more commensurate with the work he performs, but agreed to the $42.50 an hour rate. 
* Approved an employee in the sheriff’s department to temporarily work out of classification. A supervisor in the department will be away from work until late March and the temporary reclassification falls under the union contract that allows such short-term employee movement.
* Laid over an appointment to the Region 7W Transportation Policy Board. The appointment needs to be an elected official from a city with a population of 5,000 or more. In Wright County, that includes the cities of Albertville, Buffalo, Delano, Monticello, Otsego and St. Michael. There is already a board member from Otsego. The board authorized contacting the other five city administrators to request candidates to come forward.
* Authorized obtaining quotes for grading at the site of the sheriff’s impound lot that will be part of the Public Works Building expansion.
* Approved labor contract agreements with the Assistant Wright County Attorney’s Association and the Sheriff Essential Supervisory Unit.
* Authorized board attendance at the North Fork Crow One Watershed One Plan meeting, which was held Feb. 4 at the Meeker County Courthouse in Litchfield.