Dakota County Commissioner sees a different park than constituents do.
Commissioner sees different park than I do
In response to my Dec. 11 letter about Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Dakota County Commissioner Paul Krause paints a grim picture of land “degraded by farming” and bursting with invasive plant species (Short Takes, Dec. 16). This view does not reflect reality.
The park’s hills and pothole lakes made it mostly untenable for crop production. Farmers left large areas untouched, resulting in a place filled with majestic oaks well more than 100 years old. Many native plant species, some rare, flourish here.
The real issue is the multimillion-dollar, seven-mile paved trail through the center of the park. It will be the main connector hub for seven other county bike trails. Commissioners want the federal government, the Metropolitan Council and, ironically, our state’s Legacy Fund to pay for it. However, the funding is contingent on making this bike superhighway wheelchair-accessible.
That’s why the specs call for 150-foot sight lines, 30- to 50-foot-wide clearance and a maximum grade of only 5 percent. Large swaths of hills, ancient oaks and wild animals will be bulldozed. And for what? This long, point-to-point trail is a 14-mile round trip, clearly designed for bikes, not for the disabled.
Our elected officials see this beautiful wild place as degraded and weedy. The lure of big money must have clouded their vision. Less costly, more sensible trail solutions have been proposed and ignored. It’s time to seriously consider them before the destruction begins.
LAUREL REGAN, Apple Valley
• • •
Commissioner Krause is correct: $15.5 million would eradicate a lot of buckthorn and plant some wonderful oak savannas. But after further review, that’s not really what’s in the plan.
Krause defines the controversial Lebanon Hills Development Plan as balanced — $15.5 million for “land protection and restoring natural ecosystems” and $15 million “or so” for recreation development.
Development does represent 51 percent of the estimated $31 million cost. After that, the numbers get fuzzy, because the remaining 49 percent actually includes both acquisition and natural resource stewardship.
“Balance” in this plan means 51 percent facilities development, 23 percent acquisition and 26 percent natural resource stewardship.
Even fuzzier when you consider that acquisition spending is not at the county’s discretion but depends on whether the properties identified actually become available for purchase. Take out that uncertain element, and the plan’s “balance” becomes 66 percent development and 34 percent natural resource stewardship.
Even fuzzier than that is Krause does not tell you that it is his opinion, and not that of the people he represents. So far 90 percent of the residents who have voiced an opinion do not want the plan as presented.
MIKE STINSON, Apple Valley
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.