Alexandria City Council Advances Section 3 of Alexandria Nature Trail

Alexandria City Council Advances Section 3 of Alexandria Nature Trail

(Alexandria MN) — The Alexandria City Council took significant steps during in late December by approving three motions supporting the development of a new section of the Alexandria Nature Trail. The council’s decisions reflect a commitment to furthering the city’s recreational infrastructure.

The first motion involved designating Alexandria as the sponsoring agency for Section 3 of the trail. This move solidifies the city’s role in overseeing the development and maintenance of this crucial segment. The second motion focused on the commitment to operate and maintain the facilities associated with Section 3. Finally, the third motion involved the submission of a grant application to construct Section 3, underlining the city’s proactive approach to securing financial support for the project.

Section 3 Overview

The City of Alexandria, in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy, introduced an ambitious plan for the Alexandria Nature Trail, with Section 3 as a key component. This proposed 8-foot wide paved trail spans approximately 4.1 miles and is integral to the broader vision of creating a 13-mile recreational trail linking residential and commercial areas in Alexandria.

The estimated cost for Section 3 totals to $846,564. Seeking substantial support, the city is actively pursuing a grant through the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program. The request seeks $589,864, representing 80% of the construction costs. The remaining 20%, covering design and administrative expenses (amounting to $256,700), is earmarked to be sourced from local funds, specifically the Park and Recreation Development Fund.

The Alexandria Nature Trail is set to offer a range of benefits

  1. Safe Access to Parks, Schools, and Shopping: As a non-motorized pathway, the trail will provide a secure route for pedestrians and cyclists to reach parks, schools, and shopping centers, promoting a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.
  2. Connection to Neighborhood Trails: The trail will seamlessly connect with existing neighborhood trails, creating an integrated network that enhances accessibility and promotes community engagement.
  3. Access to Central Lakes Trail: In addition to local connectivity, the Alexandria Nature Trail will link to the Central Lakes Trail, expanding opportunities for outdoor activities and recreational pursuits.
  4. Nature-Filled Experience: Nature enthusiasts, bikers, and walkers can indulge in the trail’s scenic beauty, making it an ideal space for exercise or a nature-inspired respite.
  5. Enhanced Access for Specific Groups: The trail will cater to bird watchers, elders, and families, offering an escape to nature and opportunities to learn about wetlands, biodiversity, and more

More Than a Trail: A Nature-Based Solution

Beyond its recreational appeal, the Alexandria Nature Trail is a nature-based solution designed to address environmental concerns and support sustainable practices. The proposed project aims to:

  1. Protect the Aquifer: By preserving the land along the trail, the project contributes to safeguarding the local aquifer, ensuring a sustainable water supply for the community.
  2. Provide Cleaner Water and Air: The trail’s conservation efforts extend to improving water and air quality, benefiting the well-being of both the environment and residents.
  3. Mitigate Flooding and Drought Risks: The trail is designed to reduce the risks associated with flooding and drought, promoting resilience in the face of changing weather patterns.
  4. Cut Stormwater Management Costs: Implementing natural solutions along the trail reduces the need for expensive stormwater management infrastructure, leading to cost savings for the community.
  5. Alleviate Infrastructure Pressure: The project aims to alleviate pressure on existing infrastructure by offering a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative for transportation and recreation.
  6. Preserve Precious Ecosystems: Through responsible development practices, the Alexandria Nature Trail protects vital wetlands, woodlands, and streams from potential harm due to urban expansion.
  7. Sustain Land for Public Enjoyment: By preserving land for public use, the trail ensures that future generations can continue to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of Alexandria.

Financing and Timeline

The council allocated $85,000 annually from city-owned liquor stores to the fund, starting with the 2024 budget. Pending approval, the Section 3 trail project is scheduled for construction in 2028, contributing to the city’s commitment to enhanced recreational opportunities.

Community Support and Advocacy

The Friends of the Alexandria Nature Trail (FANT) have played a crucial role in advocating for the project. FANT Chair, John Riggle, reported substantial support from at least 15 organizations, with active engagement in local civic groups.

The trail aims to contribute to clean water, clean air, and the reduction of flood and drought risks, aligning with the city’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

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