Citizens provide input into parks plan
Continuing on the recent trend of neighborhood solidarity, close to a dozen Montfort Park area residents came before city council to voice their opposition to a public-use trail in their neighborhood. “Nobody wants it,” said Sandro Westermayer, who at their September 13 meeting gave council a request to relocate the trail signed by close to 50 of his neighbors. “Please don’t take it through our neighborhood.”
The trail is part of the city’s new comprehensive parks and recreation plan, introduced to city council August 23. The plan is intended to be a “guide to the acquisition, planning, and development of parks and recreation in the city of Blaine,” an inventory of what the city has, and recommendations for what it needs. Council scheduled a public hearing for September 27, leaving a month to let residents give their feedback on the plan.
Westermayer’s recommendation is to have the proposed harbor loop trail skip Montfort Park and stay on Peace Portal Drive until Bell Road. His reasons include public safety, privacy, and a lack of facilities or “other rewards” for visitors using the trail. The current proposal would have the trail come off Peace Portal Drive and cross the railroad tracks onto Bayview Avenue, which is not at this time a legal crossing. Continuing along Bayview the trail would pass through Montfort Park and Harborside Estates, ending up in a proposed park at the mouth of Dakota Creek.
What Westermayer and his neighbors would like to see, he said, was more city support for their efforts to keep the park clean and add a few amenities to make it more amenable – a few benches along the shore, or a garbage can. “I don’t think it’s any effort,” he said. “Clean it up and people can use it.”
Gary Bell, a Bayview Avenue resident, said that heavier traffic through the park would be created by a multi-use trail. “It’s somewhat a nature reserve,” he said, adding that the park was home to nesting bald eagles, a haven for migrating songbirds and an array of other wildlife.
City community and economic development director Terry Galvin said the trail illustrated in the plan was more a suggestion than a solid proposal, and it was public input that would shape plans for parks and recreational facilities within the city. “This plan is not set in stone,” he said. “Neighborhoods will play a huge role.”
Beyond parks and trails, Westermayer’s submission to council included concerns that the anticipated construction of up to 100 homes following recent property transfers would mandate many changes to the area between Peace Portal Drive and Drayton Harbor, now only accessible by the Hughes Street railroad crossing and relatively sparsely developed.