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“There is a balancing act between recreation and preservation. This is a traditional discussion that goes back to Yellowstone [National Park],” Sullivan said.
Paving a 6.5 mile trail, along with a 2-mile paved loop around one of the park lakes, is not much paving in a park this large, and by comparison, the master plan has 24.5 miles of unpaved trails, Sullivan said. The paved trails would provide four-season recreation.
A paved trail at Lebanon Hills would make it a location where bikers could park, use restrooms and connect with the county’s 200 miles of paved greenway trails, Sullivan said.
Although Lebanon Hills is a regional park and not a park preserve, the county is planning to leave much of it as open space to be sensitive to hikers who may want to be out of view of the paved trail activity, Sullivan said.
“The unfortunate thing is that the park can’t be everything to everyone,” Sullivan said. “There are choices that have to be made. We are trying to do it in a transparent way.”
Jenkins concedes that a paved trail would bring more people to the park. But she thinks the county could get similar results by advertising the park’s quiet open space.
“I feel like the park is at a fork in the road where they can go the route of developing the park or they can conserve it,” Jenkins said.
Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287