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Council approves bike-walk plan

Rosemount is a pretty walkable community, but as any local trekker knows there are some gaps. Just try getting across South Robert Trail at 5 p.m.

On Monday the council approved a plan that aims to close those gaps, albeit years down the road. Community development director Kim Lindquist said the city's Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan will serve as a framework for the future. The city received a $25,000 grant to create the plan.

In the end the city seeks to build infrastructure, which will make walking or biking a safe, convenient and enjoyable recreation and transportation option.

The improvements will include adding sidewalks where there are none, connecting trails where appropriate, putting sidewalks in new neighborhoods and creating easy crossing areas on busy roads.

The plan begins with an assessment of Rosemount's existing conditions and needs. It then establishes the Walk-Bike Framework to identify routes and specific treatments to create a convenient and complete bike/walk network.

While making the ambitious improvements now would be too expensive, over the years, as development comes to Rosemount, the plan will be more reasonable. Staff estimates implementation of the plan will require a capital investment of approximately $6.5 million.

Hoisington Koegler Group helped the city create the plan. Greg Ingraham, a Hoisington Koegler representative, presented the finished document to the council.

Ingraham said the plan looks at the big picture and admitted that it will take years to come to fruition.

Ingraham said implementation of the plan, though, will foster activity which will be beneficial to residents and the community as a whole.

Since the city started creating the plan, the document has been reviewed by the planning commission, parks commission and city council. The biggest concern coming out of those reviews has been cost.

Staff reiterated several times that the work in the plan will not all be done at once. Projects will take place over time as funds allow. Lindquist said the city will introduce the plan into new neighborhoods when they developed and to existing neighborhoods when street reconstruction projects come up. Additionally, Lindquist said many of the identified projects are ripe for partnerships with the county or state or could be eligible for grant funding.

Ingraham told the council that getting residents interested in the city's connectivity could help the plan get implemented.

Lindquist said staff also would like to talk with the council and planning commission about which areas of the plan are higher priority.

The parks commission will lead the way on putting the plan into action. Lindquist said city planners will consult the plan when considering development projects.

Before voting, council member Jeff Weisensel expressed concern that residents won't take advantage of the system. He asked Ingraham how the city can encourage more use.

Parks director Dan Schultz said his department is teaming with Dakota County staff to find out why residents don't use the trails more often.

Council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan said she would like to see more immediate plans for making the downtown area more walkable now.

Mayor Bill Droste said he was in favor of the plan and hopes that future councils will consult the document.

"If you do it well people will use it," said Droste.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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