East Grand Forks city administrators won’t ask for state money to extend a trail to keep people away from residents’ back yards.

Council members voted unanimously on Tuesday to modify a grant application they’re set to send to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, nixing a $453,000 portion that would have asked for money to extend a Greenway trail that runs between a dike that runs near Eighth Street Southeast in the city’s south end and the Red Lake River. Neighbors there have complained that people walk beyond the trail, along the dike there, and through private property and, more or less, through backyards. Extending the trail through the space between the dike and the water could, theoretically, keep people farther from the houses there because they’d stick to the trail.

Council member Clarence Vetter, whose ward encompasses the trail area, and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Reid Huttunen said they heard from several homeowners near the trail who weren’t in favor of extending it.

“One was in favor, but had four or five requests for us to do before he would grant us an easement,” Vetter said, referring to the agreement the city would need to reach with property owners there to legally extend the public trail through the area. “The other said he wasn’t going to grant us an easement, so, without one, we can’t do the trail. The third one thought it was going to increase the amount of foot traffic and bicycle traffic.”

Before Tuesday, the application in total would ask the commission to subsidize a $1.5 million plan to add two boat ramps to LaFave Park, resurface a road that runs through it and, about a mile away, extend the Greenway trail. The grant would pay for 75% of those costs, and the city would pay for the remaining 25%.

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Removing the trail from that request, though, means East Grand Forks’ application is “narrowly” out of compliance with the grant’s criteria, Huttunen said. The grant can help pay for road work and parking lot upgrades, but only if those portions of a project are less than 40% of its total cost. No trail extension means the resurfacing project would exceed that limit, rendering the grant application ineligible for consideration by the commission.

Huttunen suggested adding to the application parts of a master plan for LaFave Park the city put together in the summer of 2019, such as a “natural playground” that could cost between $60,000 and $70,000.

“Something as simple as including that would bring the entire grant application into compliance,” he told council members.

The council’s vote allows Huttunen and other city staff to modify the application to make it fit the commission’s criteria without the trail extension.

Sidewalk cafes, bid awarded

In related news, council members:

  • Approved a change to city policy that would allow Eastside restaurants to set up cafe areas on adjoining sidewalks, assuming they receive a permit from the city first.

  • Awarded a $112,937 bid to Agassiz Asphalt, LLC to resurface a portion of River Road Northwest.