Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Citizen panel approved for Lebanon Hills Regional Park

The Dakota County Physical Development Committee of the Whole today approved the creation of a citizen panel to provide advisory comments on the Lebanon Hills Regional Park Master Plan. Each Dakota County commissioner will appoint two members to the panel and the entire board will decide on a number of "at large" participants to represent significant stakeholder groups that may be absent from the commissioner appointees.


Lebanon Hills Regional Park is the largest park in the Dakota County park system. Containing almost 2,000 acres, the park offers miles of trails and many lakes for year-round outdoor sports, recreation and environmental education. The most recent draft master plan calls for the development of about 8 miles of paved trails. The park currently has about 40 miles of unpaved trails, but no paved trails at all. There has been some public concern about the proposed trails. The plan also prioritizes extensive ecosystem restoration and adds additional miles of soft-surface trails.


The Lebanon Hills planning process has involved extensive public outreach, including informational meetings, continuous collection of input (online, comment cards), and focus groups. A citizen planning commission has also participated. However, citing the value of even more extensive and diverse opinions, Commissioner Nancy Schouweiler (District 4-parts of Inver Grove Heights, Eagan, and Rosemount) introduced the idea of creating the panel.


"The staff has done an incredible job developing this plan and I don't want to take anything away from their accomplishment. But it is crucial that the public trust that we've heard their concerns and are responding to them. This is a park for the generations. Let's do this right," said Schouweiler.


Commissioner Tom Egan, who represents District 3 (Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota Heights, and parts of Eagan) also strongly endorsed the move to create the citizen panel. The motion was approved unanimously by the committee.


The committee directed staff to return to the board in February with a proposed process for the creation of the panel.


For more information, visit www.dakotacounty.us.parks and search Lebanon Hills.

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