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New trail link may await snowmobilers

Echo Press graphic DATA's new link would provide a connecting route between north and south Alexandria.

Snowmobilers may blaze a new trail in Alexandria next winter.

The Douglas Area Trails Association (DATA) is applying to add a 3.3-mile segment that would help snowmobilers get from one end of Alexandria to the other.

At Monday night's Alexandria City Council meeting, DATA leaders Bill Anderson and Jeff Linn asked for permission to use city right-of-way along McKay Avenue for the new trail link on the east side of the city.

Although the council didn't take action on the request, they were receptive to the idea. City Administrator Jim Taddei will put together a formal resolution for the council to consider at a later date.

The "Buttermilk Trail" would run south from the Central Lakes Trail north of Highway 27, continue south along McKay Avenue, then cross over County Road 46 near the intersection with County Road 106. It would continue south until it joins the existing trail.

Adding the segment would provide a close-to-town connecting route from north to south Alexandria, according to Anderson. He explained that because future development in that area is likely, DATA wants to establish the new link before it is too late. DATA has already received permission for the added trail from Douglas County.

The next step is approval from the state.

DATA will take on the added expense of the new trail, most likely by tapping into its charitable gambling proceeds, Anderson said. Once the trail is established, it will be easier to obtain state funding, he added.

Because of all the snow, it was a good winter for snowmobiling and for DATA, Anderson told the council. "The business community was very happy with the effort we put out this year," Anderson said. With the additional trail, DATA would maintain nearly 370 total miles of trail.

Liquor store

Another notable item on the council's agenda was accepting the bid for the remodeling project at Plaza Liquor.

The winning bid came from Alliance Building Group of Sartell for $425,415, about 2 percent less than the city's estimate of $434,000. Five other bids were submitted, including three from Alexandria companies and one from Evansville. State law, however, requires local governments to accept the low bid if all the specifications are met.

Local workers will still play a large role in the construction, according to Reed Becker, the engineer for the project. Eight Alexandria area companies were hired as sub-contractors, which will help the local economy, he said. The bid was accepted with the condition that the project, which is adjacent to the airport clear-zone, will be approved by the state.

It will be Plaza Liquor's first facelift in 25 years. Money for the project will come from the city's enterprise fund, which includes profits from the city's two liquor stores, so it won't be a direct expense for taxpayers, noted council member Sara Carlson.

The project includes adding 2,160 square feet, new shingles, metal siding, stonework, personnel doors, a storefront, a coiling door, an overhead door and gutter work.

The city initially decided to pursue the project to fix damage that was caused by a break-in and to repair a deteriorating roof. The store also needs extra storage space so it can purchase products when they're selling at a good wholesale price.

Storage in the building is inefficient right now and employees risk back injuries trying to move products that are stacked underneath other items, according to city officials. The project is expected to be completed this summer. The store will remain open throughout construction.

See Friday's Echo Press for more council news.