Mayor looks to county officials for support in area trail project

By 
Hunter Herbaugh
Thursday, August 4, 2022
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Glendive Mayor Teresea Olson shows a map highlighted with areas of proposed trails during a recent meeting of the Dawson County Commissioners. Commissioners pictured are (L to R) Dennis Zander, Brad Mitchell and Joe Sharbono. Hunter Herbaugh photo

Glendive Mayor Teresea Olson approached the Dawson County commissioners on Tuesday, looking for support in continuing the plan for the possible expansion of a city project to potentially include other areas in the county. The project in question is the Rails-to-Trails initiative that was adopted by the city by Olson’s predecessor, Jerry Jimison.

As part of the project, the city has had plans to acquire property currently owned by BNSF Railway along Clough Street. The plan for the property is to remove the old rail line that crosses and runs next to the street and develop a pedestrian trail to promote more connectivity in the community.

However, Olson has expanded on those plans, presenting a draft idea to the commissioners to expand pedestrian paths to other locales including West Glendive, Jefferson School and Hollecker Lake. She has even conceptualized a possible bike route between Glendive and Richey, taking inspiration from a similar trail in Missoula County that connects the cities of Missoula and Hamilton.

She noted that trails such as these have been conceptualized for years but just haven’t been able to come to fruition.

“What I have found was there have been trail concepts, that I could find, back to 2013, so for 10 years, from everything to Bozeman (MSU) PowerPoint presentations that were done, to different maps. Then, also, that made me think of different trail concepts that we have had between the county and the city,” she said.

What makes this time different, Olson said, is she recently was part of a virtual meeting with Great West Engineering and as part of that, was made aware of a grant opportunity for a Strategic Planning Grant to help develop a plan for developing more trails.

The plan could also include a connection between Makoshika State Park and the Maah Daah Hey Trail in Medora, which Olson noted has the potential to make the plan eligible for other grants in the future.

The grant does include a 25% match from the applicant, the City of Glendive in this case, however Olson reported that Headwater Economics has offered to cover the city’s costs should the grant be approved.

The estimated cost of developing a strategic plan is $45,000. Olson said the grant request was submitted on Monday for $49,000. She added city officials should know sometime in September if the application is successful.

“This is, I mean, look at this — it could be safe routes to school, alternative transportation, it’s going to be phenomenal for economic development, for tourism, mental and physical health and wellness, support of our veterans, it can help look at dark sky locations, agro-tourism, there’s a lot of potential as we’re moving forward with it,” she said.

Olson added that when Great West applied for the grant on the city’s behalf, they had a very short window of time to apply for it — approximately two weeks — so she wanted to get the commissioners approval to continue including areas outside of the city in the plan moving forward, which all three agreed to.

To help in a potential future strategic plan, Commissioner Dennis Zander noted that a similar project to create a pedestrian trail between Jefferson Elementary School and the Highland Park neighborhood in West Glendive had preliminary designs completed several years ago. County Commissioner Joe Sharbono was the road department supervisor at that time and noted the project was ready to move forward, but fell through at the last moment. However, the plans that were made can still help in Olson’s effort.

“We were ready to shovel dirt and at the last minute, it all fell through, but the plans had all been made to proceed with it,” Sharbono said.

Zander also said he sat in on a recent meeting of the state legislature’s bipartisan infrastructure committee where it was announced that the Department of Transportation is expecting to release grants for trails and bikeways in the near future, so that could help enact a future strategic plan.

In other news:

•The Dawson County attorney has advised the commissioners that they do not need to restart the abandonment request process for County Road 525, according to Sharbono. The commissioners rejected an abandonment request in May of this year from Frank Eaton and Sons and Triple N Inc., two landowners in the area.

Following their decision, Frank Eaton and Sons claimed the process had to be started over due to a clerical error in the public notice of the first meeting describing the section of road that the request pertained to. However, Sharbono said the commissioners were advised that the error was not consequential enough to warrant starting the process over as all land owners with an interest in the process were delivered letters through the mail with the correct information.

The next meeting of the Dawson County commissioners is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 5:30 p.m.

Reach Hunter Herbaugh at rrreporter@rangerreview. com.

“... it could be safe routes to school, alternative transportation, it’s going to be phenomenal for economic development, for tourism, mental and physical health and wellness, support of our veterans, it can help look at dark sky locations, agro-tourism, there’s a lot of potential as we’re moving forward with it,” Mayor Teresea Olson