Fridley Council Nixes Bid to Seek State Funds for Sand Dunes Paths
The council decided not to apply for a grant to build paths on Moore Lake's west side.
A proposal to seek state money for new park trails on the west side of Moore Lake got bogged down Monday at the Fridley City Council.
City staff were set to apply for a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Recreation grant this month, but the council voted 4-0 against a resolution supporting Fridley's application.
The main sticking points: How the city would come up with $30,000 or more in matching funds for the $60,000 project, and whether it would be wise to build more paths the city can't afford to plow in winter.
"What are we going to not fund because of it?" asked Ward 3 Council Member Ann Bolkcom.
City Manager William Burns said he expected the city would defer some parks expenses for upkeep on playing courts, benches and picnic shelters.
"We're making all of these trails and we don't snowplow," said Ward 2 Council Member Delores Varichak. "We're in snow for six months out of the year."
Both council members said improvements at West Moore Lake Park ranked low among priorities for the council and for citizens.
The project would have put asphalt trails through West Moore Lake Park, also known as Sand Dunes Natural History Area. The trails would provide access to a little-used public boat launch, said Planning Manager Julie Jones. Without trails, she said, the park's sandy terrain and abundant sand burrs make walks there "unpleasant."
The city removed wooden walkways there in 1999 after they fell into disrepair, according to Park and Recreation Director Jack Kirk.
In the years since, Kirk said, an anonymous donor offered to help pay for new paths, but not asphalt ones—after experts said small animals warming themselves on the asphalt might face danger from humans' feet or wheels.
Kirk also said the city's Park and Recreation Commission hadn't taken up the matter for new paths within West Moore Lake Park. That was one reason Bolkcom gave for opposing the application.
The Sand Dunes grant application resolution required a public hearing. One resident, Joanne Zmuda, spoke against the application on financial grounds. Another resident, Pam Reynolds, questioned whether the state funds were to come from legislation not yet approved at the state Capitol.
Other Applications Get OKs
Two other grant application for bike and pedestrian routes did get council approval Monday. One would fill in gaps for a wider loop trail around Moore Lake. The other would complete a route from Unity Hospital's new Wellness Path to Rice Creek Regional Trail.
Bolkcom cast a lone vote against each of those applications as well, saying she wanted to know which city road projects would get less funding if the city won the grants and contributed required matching funds.
According to Jones, the impetus for making the grant applications was Anoka County provision of a consultant's grant-writing services, using State Health Improvement Program funds, to help cities seek other state money. Jones said the consultant predicted the city would not get all three grants even if it applied for all three, but that an unsuccessful application could prove useful in reapplying next year.