Estes Trail Center gains statewide support
Nearly a year ago at the
2017 Walk for Glendalough, an exciting
development project was unveiled
— the proposed Estes Trail Center. This innovative visitor and interpretive facility was designed in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to address the growing attraction of the park and bike trail.
Within a few weeks, informal charitable requests resulted in more than $185,000 of donations and pledges to the project from the Cowles and Ballantine families and a few local philanthropists, with another $150,000 likely to materialize. The Cowles and Ballantine families originally donated their family retreat to the Nature Conservancy in the early 1990s, which has since become Glendalough State Park. They remain strong advocates of the park.
The proposed Estes Trail Center is also moving forward with statewide support. The Glendalough Citizens Advisory Board authored a $750,000 grant application for the trail center with the Minnesota Parks and Trail Council last August. The council is made up of parks and trail advocates from around the state, and reviews candidate projects for Minnesota Legacy Amendment funding.
The council’s board of directors was impressed with the collaborative research, design and planning with the DNR, and the local financial commitment. They proceeded to designate the Estes Trail Center as a high priority project for their legislative agenda, and will provide advocacy for the project with the DNR during the 2018 bonding session.
Minnesota Parks and Trail officials also encouraged involvement from our local legislators — Rep. Bud Nornes and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen — to author bonding bills for the trail center. A drafting session was conducted in Fergus Falls, and the resulting House and Senate bills have been submitted to the Legislative Revisor’s Office and will be introduced on the first day of the 2018 legislative session.
As a reminder, the proposed Estes Trail Center is vitally important as park growth eclipsed 85,000 visitors in 2017, up from about 50,000 in 2013. The park continues to garner statewide attention, and was recently featured on the front cover of the Bike MN Resource Guide, a high profile statewide publication. The trail center is designed to enhance the attraction of Glendalough, provide interpretation for visitors and students from the eight school districts using the park, and stay ahead of projected growth as regional trails will bring even more families to the park and Otter Tail County. The center is also designed to offer winter facilities for campers and centralize rental services and parking; all with a keen eye toward preservation of the historical buildings that were not intended to operate as visitor centers.
You’ll be hearing more information about the trail center at the Walk for Glendalough on April 21.
Author: Dan Malmstrom
Source, credits, & more information: FergusFallsJournal