MINOCQUA – A proposal by a mountain bike club to build additional trails on town property hit a few bumps during Tuesday’ Minocqua Town Board meeting. But the trouble spots apparently were smoothed over after some discussion.
At issue were concerns by Northwoods Zip Lines’ co-owner Joshua Russart that noise from trail construction by Lakeland Area Mountain Bike Organization (LAMBO) could upset his zip line customers. The business pays an annual lease fee to the town to use the land, which is where LAMBO wants to build their new trails. “I’m all for LAMBO taking this over,” said Russart, of his current 1.5-mile mountain bike trail and LAMBO’s other trails. But not at the expense of chainsaws and earthmoving equipment souring his customers on their visits, he said. “My customers don’t want to listen to a construction piece of equipment during peak season. We are an eco tour up in the trees,” he said. He was not made aware of LAMBO’s summer construction schedule. “The thing is we were not kept in the loop. The first time I ever heard that LAMBO wanted to come out for three or four weeks – essentially all of June – was yesterday,” he told the board. “We were never, ever told that all of a sudden, construction equipment would be running all of June while I’m trying to make money and run my tours.”
At first, Russart insisted that LAMBO’s trail construction should take place before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. But that was before he learned the chainsaw and mini-excavator work would be completed in less than two weeks. In his opening comments, LAMBO Bryon Black said his group and Russart had reached “an impasse” on a couple of issues, essentially when that trail construction takes place. But then he said tree removal and earth moving would take no more than two weeks. Volunteers would finish trail work by hand over another two weeks. That seemed to appease Russart. “Two weeks is completely different than what I was told,” he said. “It’s a completely different animal for me. Nonetheless, he wanted a timetable of the planned trail construction. At times, the town chairman and supervisors urged the two parties to work out their differences.
Town Chairman Mark Hartzheim said cutting of trees could take place before Memorial Day, and that the mini-excavator would not be that noisy. Supervisor John Thompson told Russart that in the long run the LAMBO’s trails would bring more silent sports enthusiasts to his zip line business. “Who is going to benefit the most from this? he said rhetorically. “Not the town. It’s going to be you.” Russart said he was willing to work with LAMBO, saying later that “it’s no big deal” if construction machinery work went a few more days than two weeks. “We’re not trying to stop them in any way.” Part and parcel of the whole matter is the town’s requirement that LAMBO must have a land use agreement in place with the town before trail construction.
Town attorney Greg Harrold had presented such an agreement to the board Tuesday, but Hartzheim and LAMBO representatives wanted another go at clarifying the agreement’s language. In addition, at least one supervisor said he had not been able to review it yet. “We are probably not ready to go forward right now the way it is written,” agreed Black, outlining a few areas in the agreement that would not apply to the group. Nor had his board had time to review the contract. Hartzheim said he wanted all parties on board with the revised land use agreement and trail construction timeline so they could be approved at the May 2 board meeting. Hartzheim also said that he and Director of Public Works Mark Pertile would attempt to resolve any disagreements on trail construction before going to the town board for resolution. Northwoods Zip Line is the only commercial user of the property located south of the Island of Minocqua along Highway 51. LAMBO is a non-profit organization and doesn’t pay a lease fee. The town-owned land remains open to other users, such as hikers, bird watchers and hunters.
In other matters, the board received three bids for new fire signs for each property parcel in the township. The town has budgeted $170,000 for the project. No action was taken on the bid award pending Pertile’s review and recommendation. The price could jump somewhat if alternates are approved. Submitting bids were Electo Signs and Design, Blaine, MN, $192,861; Lakeland Landscaping, Minocqua, $138,900 and Lange Enterprises, Oconomowoc, $127,355. Prices include installation. The board also awarded a $1,872 mowing contract to Back Country Property Services for upwards of 13 mowings of the Highway 70 West boulevard from Highway 51 to Blumenstein Road. Home Turf Advantage submitted the only other bid at $2,145. Pertile said the Back Country fee is comparable to what it would cost to have town employees mow the stretch, which they have done for many years. Pertile said a private contractor doing the mowing would free up town employees to tackle other projects. He said it would be done on a one-year trial basis. The board also approved a proposal jointly forwarded by the Minocqua Gun Club and Ascension Lutheran Church to swap two 2-acre parcels. Due to a prior survey that is inaccurate, according to gun club representative Luke Yelton, the church is encroaching on gun club property east of Old Highway 51. The church needs ownership of the land to complete a driveway to Old Hwy. 51 and to landscape around a columbarium. The town will bear no cost for the transaction, other than for the legal work on deed restrictions. The church will pay for the surveying and other related costs. Restrictions will be placed on the gun club parcel so that no development can occur there.