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Grant return means change up for Fosston trail project

FOSSTON, Minn. -- The loss of grant funding will keep a natural play place from being constructed along a multi-use trail here for now, but project organizers hope to add other features in the meantime.

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FOSSTON, Minn. - The loss of grant funding will keep a natural play place from being constructed along a multi-use trail here for now, but project organizers hope to add other features in the meantime.

The initiative to build the play space, headed by Fosston's Rotary Club, lost $5,000 in grant money when delays kept the space from being built within the timeline indicated on the grant application, Rotary Club Secretary Doris Murray wrote in a letter published last week by the Thirteen Towns newspaper.

The club intended the play space to be built along the Foston Inspiration Trail, which it also helped construct.

The play place would feature logs, rocks and other natural items children could climb and play on and educational elements as well. The project is still a possibility for the future, but the club will likely pursue adding benches and exercise stations along the trail, club member Dean Vikan told the Herald.

"We'll probably go for another grant this coming grant cycle to help us get as much of that functionality to the FIT trail as we can," he said. "It's unfortunate that we had to send the money back now and after we applied for it, but that's the way the system works."

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The grant application for the play space was submitted in 2013, and $5,000 was disbursed for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The club contributed $10,000 in private donations to the project, according to a 2014 project progress report.

That money came from Vikan, who said a hit and run accident five years ago left him with a large insurance payout. He put part of the payout forward as matching funds, first for the trail project then the play place project once it was determined enough money had been raised to cover the trail's construction.

"We started out on that journey, but then the play space had to wait for the trail to be finished, which delayed it some," Vikan said. "Then we relocated (the play space) at the request of some of the mothers that had small children."

The number of entities involved in making the trail and play space a reality also led to delays, Murray wrote in her letter. More setbacks followed when it came to getting permits, engineering designs and arranging contractors, which ultimately kept organizers from meeting the intended timeline.

With an extension granted by the grant subcommittee of Rotary District 5580, the club set out to complete the project this year, starting in spring and hoping to finish in July but were not able to do so.

This time around, the subcommittee determined the money should be returned.

While the focus is now shifting to benches and exercise stations, the play space isn't being written off quite yet.

"I think eventually our goal will be to do both," Vikan said.

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The club will continue to collect donations for adding amenities to the trail. Those wishing to donate can contact Vikan or other members of the Fosston Rotary Club. Vikan can be reached at (218) 435-6594 or dvikan@gvtel.com .

The club meets at noon Thursdays at New Journey Church in Fosston.

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