WINONA, Minn. — Winona officials will soon begin looking for funding options for a multi-million dollar plan to develop the community's bluff-side parks, which officials hope will increase tourism and protect the environment.
The Bluffs Traverse Conservation Area and Bluffside Parks Plan could cost between $2.67 million and $3.18 million, The Winona Daily News reported . The project will develop multiple area parks and add paved and un-paved multi-use trails.
"It's an exciting time for the community," said Ross Greedy, Winona's outdoor recreation coordinator.
The project will provide easier outdoor access, increase tourism, promote economic development and expand outdoor programming options, Greedy said.
The city also hopes that the trail work will have long-term environmental benefits and prevent further damage to the bluff-sides, he said. The area is seeing eroding slopes, disrupted habitat, litter and invasive species because of foot traffic, according to the Bluffs Traverse plan.
The additional trails will connect to existing city, county and regional trails as part of the city's recently approved comprehensive parks plan. The city will have to find solutions to trails that run through private property.
Officials will also have to search for funding, and it could take several years for the city to secure enough federal, state and local grants to fund the project, Greedy said. The parks department will begin applying for grants this spring, he said.
An alcohol and beverage sales tax could also help offset part of the project's cost, said Council Member Paul Schollmeier.
The parks department could begin work this summer if funding efforts are successful, Greedy said.