By Anne Holzman
Lauderdale is on a slow path to improving a small natural area on its northeast corner, possibly adding a trail and a short stretch of boardwalk to connect the edge of Walsh Lake with the end of Pleasant Street.
But any plans might not take shape until next year.
Due to a lawsuit settled some 30 years ago, Lauderdale owns four unbuildable lots along the west edge of the pond that forms a small southern portion of Walsh Lake. Most of the lake is on the Midland Hills golf course to the north.
Neighbors have been casually maintaining the pond shoreline inside Lauderdale city limits. But the staff and City Council are interested in restoring natural vegetation and opening up the area for public use.
The city of Roseville owns the land on the south and east sides of the lake, so any habitat restoration would likely be done with its cooperation. There is no public access at the north edge of Lauderdale’s lots.
At its June 13 council meeting, City Administrator Heather Butkowski said she has asked Ramsey County about applying for Legacy Amendment funding to tackle invasive species near the lake. She learned the city would need to commit to an intended use of the area before applying, which led to the proposal for a trail.
Butkowski and city consulting engineer Kellie Schegel presented a sketch of a trail running along the lakeshore. Public access would be where Pleasant Street dead-ends at the southern edge of the lake.
Schlegel estimated total cost of the trail project to be about $340,000, including trail construction ($50,000), a boardwalk ($165,000) and additional costs for design and administration. She said the trail would likely be gravel and the choice of materials for the boardwalk would affect the price.
Butkowski said habitat restoration would cost about $50,000.
Council member Jeff Dains said he was aware that neighbors on adjacent lots would like the opportunity to buy the city’s land. “My opinion is, we don’t sell public land,” Dains said.
Responding to the overall trail plan, council member Sharon Kelly said, “I like the idea of improving our natural amenities.”
The council was scheduled to walk through the area on July 11. Butkowski told the Bugle she expects this to be a long-range plan, possibly to be considered by a new environment commission that the council may establish during next year.
“The commission might recommend a small trail to a bench, at a fraction of the cost,” Butkowski stated in an email. “I don’t see anything happening in this arena for some time.”
Anne Holzman is a Twin Cities freelance writer who covers Lauderdale government news for the Bugle.