A proposal for a 30 mile long trail isn't sitting well with everyone, who lives along its path. Opponents called our Whistleblower hotline, saying the path is going to harm farms and townships in the area. The multipurpose path is still in the planning stages and would cost around 11 million dollars. It would stretch from Perham to Pelican Rapids. Supporters say there's a great need in the area for people to safely walk, bike, and snowmobile.
Duane Haiby owns a farm near pelican rapids on county road 3 right on the edge of the proposed trail route.
"This is my livelihood, I mean to give up a strip of land for a bike trail that takes away from my lively hood, and I guess I'm not in favor of that," says Haiby, "We were told that our property would be accessed fairly, and this is what we would be paid for our property, mine is not for sale." He's worried about privacy liability and safety of those using the path, others echo his concerns.
Daryl Haarstick, Dora Township Supervisor says, "A trail that's made for walking, and you take a semi with a full load of corn in the fall and you turn, it is not going to take it."
Otter Tail County Commissioner, Wayne Johnson, "I know that there are people that have concerns and I understand that, but I am really excited about it, because I think it's something that generationally you know our studies have shown that the amenities that an area has brings people there."
Johnson says that many others have contacted him about the path going through their property. He says the plan is to try and use the land next to roads already in place. "A lot of the right of way is already there we don't have to worry about taking and buying more land from land owners, because a lot of the land basically committed to the county anyway," says Johnson.
"Positioning of this trail is very important, to spend this kind of money, and not have it be ideal, and user friendly, it's not going to work," says Haiby.
Haiby and others say they will continue their work against having this trail anywhere near their backyards including a petition drive.
Planners expect more design changes to come including another study before formally presenting a plan to the Otter Tail County Commission. From there both Perham and Pelican Rapids city leaders will weigh in on the trail.
If it's approved it will be built in pieces and it could take around 10 years to be competed. The state of Minnesota is also part of the process as proposed, the path would go through Maple Wood State Park, and the state supports the trail.