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Letter: New bike trail needs to be more economical

To the editor,

I write this letter with reflections on the recently approved bike trail through the Spring Lake Park Reserve just west of Hastings. This part of the trail will link Rosemount with Hastings and complete the bicycle path from St. Paul to Hastings. As an avid bike rider, I looked forward to this section but question strongly if I will fully appreciate, or in fact, ever ride on it.

First, the path approved by the county board is far more expensive than I ever dreamed. Are our county commissioners out of their (note that I did not say "freaking") minds to pick the trail option that is most costly of the alternatives just to bring riders a few hundred feet closer to the river? We see the river from Hastings and can go visit the lock and dam anytime we want. I understand that one bridge alone will cost $1.7 million! Bike riders don't need the most costly options. The costs of construction, of land acquisition and maintenance are enormous when we find it difficult to keep up the existing roadways.

Moreover, I fear that the actual path selected will cause the most environmental impact of the options available and threaten the eagles and other wildlife that inhabit the area. But one consideration that evaded the commissioners is public safety. As a woman riding alone, I have serious concern about riding on some trails within the Hastings city limits, especially early in the morning or evening. I think it would be poor judgment to expose myself to the personal hazards the selected path might present.

At a time when the national and state economies are struggling we should not waste money when we can find other reasonable alternatives. It does not matter if the money is federal, state or county dollars. They come from the pockets of taxpayers. I thought all elected officials were supposed to watch how our dollars are spent. Instead it looks more like they are a form of government that is showing off all they can do and how well they can do it. Wasn't it Lenin who said that a Democracy cannot long exist once the people realize they can vote themselves such freebies? The trouble is, these freebies aren't free. Wake up, Minnesotans!

-- June Thoele