County amends trail plans in Shoreview and Arden Hills

The proposed amendment to the Rice Creek North Regional Trail Master Plan would connect the Rice Creek trail to the Highway 96 trail and create better interplay with the Rice Creek Commons development. (Graphic provided by Ramsey County)
The proposed amendment to the Rice Creek North Regional Trail Master Plan would connect the Rice Creek trail to the Highway 96 trail and create better interplay with the Rice Creek Commons development. (Graphic provided by Ramsey County)

Ramsey County Parks and Recreation has proposed two master plan amendments that would expand recreational trails in Shoreview and Arden Hills.

One amendment is a change to the Highway 96 Regional Trail Master Plan, which would create a trail loop off the main trail into the Snail Lake Marsh area, along with habitat restorations and other improvements.

The other amendment is a change to the Rice Creek North Regional Trail Master Plan, which would extend existing trails in the area of the Rice Creek Commons development (formerly the site of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant), create a new trailhead road and include habitat restorations, among other provisions.

Snail Lake Marsh

The amendment to the Highway 96 plan is further along in the planning process, currently being tweaked by RCPR in accordance with public comments received last month at a meeting and via online submissions.

The Snail Lake Marsh area is located across Highway 96 from the Shoreview Community Center and is made up of 47 acres of land acquired by Ramsey County in the late 1970s.

The amendment would change the nearly 20-year-old master plan for the Highway 96 trail by extending an 8-foot wide asphalt trail into the open marshland, creating informal overlooks, other trail facilities and habitat restorations.

RCPR Director of Planning and Development Scott Yonke said the county received lots of feedback on the amendment and will use that input to modify the plan before moving onto the next stages of implementing it.

"There were a lot of comments, there were mixed reactions," Yonke said. "It's really great to get a lot of comments — when you analyze those, it really makes the plan better."

Once the county finalizes the amendment, it will move on to a three-part approval process that starts at the municipal level with the Shoreview City Council, followed by the Ramsey County Commission, and then on to the Metropolitan Council, which has final say because the master plan pertains to to a "regional" trail.

The Shoreview council looked at the amendment at its Feb. 9 workshop, and city planner Kathleen Castle said that all points of the plan were received positively and that she expects the amendment to come back to the council this spring.

"The council stressed that the area is public, and as such the proposed improvement should be designed to improve public access to the area," Castle said.

The city is also mulling over the option of connecting its own trail system to the proposed extension into the Snail Lake Marsh area via Reiland Lane, though those plans are a ways off, says city manager Terry Schwerm.

"The city doesn't have any plans to create that linkage at this time," he said.

There's no set timetable for implementing the master plan amendment at this time, Yonke says, as its progress is contingent upon approval at the city, county and Met Council level. He also said no budget has been set yet.

Rice Creek Trail

The amendment to the Rice Creek Trail master plan, which was finalized in 2013, would create a 1.2-mile extension within the Rice Creek North Trail Regional Corridor as well as a trailhead, pedestrian bridges, a wildlife corridor and restored habitats.

The proposed trail area is south of County Road I and east of Interstate 35W, just north of the Rice Creek Commons development. The corridor would connect to the Highway 96 trail via a 1.5-mile trail link running down the east side of the development.

County parks official Yonke said the amendment was partly in response to plans at Rice Creek Commons, and will go through a similar approval process to the Snail Lake amendment, going before the Arden Hills City Council, before moving to the county level and then on to the Met Council.

Also similarly, there's no set timeline nor budget regarding the amendment, as details of the plan are in flux. RCPR held a meeting on the amendment last month and is still soliciting comments through the end of February.

Visit www.ramseycountyparksprojects.org for more information on both projects and follow the on-page links to submit a comment on the Rice Creek North Regional Trail Master Plan amendment before the end of the month.

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.

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