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Gull Lake Trail edging closer to completion in three communities

Bids to be sought to complete trail in Nisswa, Lake Shore and Fairview Township

County State Aid Highway 77 through Lake Shore has been repaved and painted as part of a larger project to create a separate walking and biking trail following the road.
County State Aid Highway 77 through Lake Shore was repaved and painted in 2018 as part of a larger project to create a separate walking and biking trail following the road.
Echo Journal File Photo

If funding falls into place, the long-planned trail connecting four communities around Gull Lake could be close to reality this year.

It is hoped that final work on the Gull Lake Trail in Nisswa, Lake Shore and Fairview Township will happen this year.

Bids for trail work in Nisswa and Lake Shore will be solicited this month. Proposed bidding will include a base bid of approximately $1.5 million for both Nisswa and Lake Shore, along with one add-alternate each.

Depending on costs, each city can decide how much of the project it can afford by only opting to complete the base project if needed.

Read more about the Gull Lake Trail
Estimated cost is $5.4 million, and cities have $3.4 million in grant funding
Nisswa and Lake Shore to receive $2,434,922 in grant funding for the Gull Lake Trail project.
Nisswa and Lake Shore continue to work together to complete their combined 4.4-mile portion of the Gull Lake Trail that will one day connect four communities around the lake - East Gull Lake, Fairview Township, Lake Shore and Nisswa.
Gull Lake Trail is among 19 other projects awarded a record $12.2 million, pending Legislative approval.
When completed, Fairview will have 7.8 miles of the 21-mile trail running through its township, Jenny Gunsbury, the Fairview Trail Advisory Committee chairwoman, said.

The most recent cost estimate to complete the trail in both cities is $5.4 million, which is $2.2 million more than the $3.2 million the cities currently have.

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The Lake Shore City Council learned at its regular meeting Monday, Jan. 23, that based on those estimates and a conversation with the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, the cities will seek to downscale the project to match the funds already secured.

Both cities sent a letter to the GMRPTC to change the scope.

In Lake Shore, the $1.5 million will allow completion of the trail from the Bar Harbor Townhomes at the County Road 78-County State Aid Highway 77 intersection to the top of the hill at the Whitney gravel pit.

In Nisswa, the base bid will be to complete the trail on Lower Roy Lake Road and Hazelwood Drive.

Both city councils approved a quote from city engineer Widseth of $12,200 ($6,100 per city) to facilitate the bid process for the Gull Lake Trail.

Widseth is the city engineer for both cities and did survey work, preliminary design and final design plans for the trail in both cities.

Easements

Lake Shore still must secure easements from nine properties. That process is well underway and the city attorney’s office has begun the acquisition process.

Nisswa City Attorney Tom Pearson told the council Jan. 17 that draft condemnation petitions will be sent to acquire property for the trail in Nisswa where an agreement hasn’t yet been reached.

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The start of this process doesn’t mean negotiations can’t continue, with the hope to obtain all properties through purchase, he said.

The council is willing to meet with property owners as well.

Trail

The ultimate goal is for the trail to connect four communities around Gull Lake — East Gull Lake, Fairview Township, Lake Shore and Nisswa.

The paved, multi-use trail will total 21 miles.

The current undertaking is to develop the remaining 4.89 miles of the trail to connect the existing trail segment in Lake Shore to downtown Nisswa via Nisswa Lake Park.

Lake Shore already has 2.276 miles of trail that is adjacent to, but detached from, County State Aid Highway 77, and 1.77 miles of widened shoulder along CSAH 77.

The trickiest last 1.3 miles — from Bar Harbor Supper Club, over the Gull Lake Narrows, past Zorbaz on Gull to the Nisswa city line — remains.

Nisswa's 3.1 miles of trail will be constructed from the Lake Shore city line on CSAH 77 north following Lower Roy Lake Road and connecting to Hazelwood Drive to the tunnel that goes under Highway 371 to downtown and the Paul Bunyan Trail.

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Fairview Township has the longest trail portion at 7.8 miles. An initial 4.1 miles were completed in 2021.

This summer, the township hopes to construct as much of the remaining 3.7 miles as funding will cover, with construction starting where the Lake Shore Trail ends at Sandy Point Road.

The projected cost of the last 3.7 miles is $2,990,000, Marla Yoho, township clerk, said in an email. Bolton & Menk engineering firm completed the plans and specifications for that portion of the trail, which the Cass County highway engineer is reviewing.

“As soon as we get county approval for those plans we will be advertising for bids, which will hopefully be in February,” Yoho said.

Township officials have been working diligently at grant applications and so far have been awarded over $2 million in grants toward the last 3.7 miles of trail, Yoho said.

They also hope to hear in March about an application for an Active Transportation grant through the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

East Gull Lake’s trail system has been in place for years.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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