Our View...Now's the time to peddle a bike trail for CloquetIt’s high summer. Bike riders are out in greater numbers than ever before. The communities of Carlton and Duluth are abuzz with cyclists and hikers, taking advantage of the picturesque Munger Trail and at the same time patronizing local businesses.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
It’s high summer. Bike riders are out in greater numbers than ever before. The communities of Carlton and Duluth are abuzz with cyclists and hikers, taking advantage of the picturesque Munger Trail and at the same time patronizing local businesses.
What’s wrong with this picture? Absolutely nothing — except that Cloquet is not a part of the action. Despite its natural assets of woods and waters, the community has not yet been able to develop a connection to the popular bike trail, and we're missing out every summer, spring and autumn that goes by.
A few years ago, we came so close. The St. Louis River Trail Committee, the county and participating communities were able to generate adequate funding to create an extension from the Munger Trail to the park-and-ride lot in Scanlon. And then what?
Unfortunately, the next phase of the planned extension into Cloquet failed to materialize, in part because of right-of-way issues along the proposed route, and in the end because of the lack of a local funding match. Was it because of lack of interest? Not likely. It just so happened that the timing coincided with some of the area’s toughest economic times in many a moon, and it was tough to justify an investment in recreation when folks were having a hard time putting food on the table.
Well, hopefully those times will soon be behind us, and we will be able to focus on a plan that is still waiting to happen.
Trail Committee Chairman Mark Roberts reports that the group recently got the ball rolling once again in planning for the next phase of the trail. Since the last plan was unsuccessful, the committee has applied for a grant and sought out the necessary local government match to have the plan updated with an eye toward eventual implementation.
It will take more than a committee to get things rolling, however. It will take the support of local governments, residents and potential stakeholders. That very well could mean you. You don’t have to ride a bicycle, or even be into hiking, to have a reason to support the trail. The overflow of cyclists from the Munger Trail will provide new business for the area, and the trail itself will improve the community's appeal to potential residents looking to possibly relocate to this area.
Much more will hopefully be forthcoming about the planning for this worthwhile project in the weeks to come. This time, let’s keep an ear to the ground and a “peddle” to the metal — and give it our whole-hearted support.