Updated: 11/13/2014 8:40 AM
Created: 02/11/2014 6:56 AM KSTP.com
By: Megan Stewart
Plans for the future of a beloved Twin Cities metro park have stirred up controversy.
Due to the various opinions on the use of Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Dakota County officials voted on Tuesday to approved the creation of a citizen panel to provide advisory comments.
The current proposed master plan allocates millions of dollars towards restoring Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which connects Eagan and Apple Valley. At the heart of the controversy is a proposed 6.5 mile paved trail.
The discussion pits environmentalists against those who say the upgrades would be great for year-round recreation. Those with Audubon Minnesota, one of the state’s leading conservation groups, say that adding 6.5 miles of paved trail through the heart of the park will impact the natural habitat – the 1,842 acres of forest, grasslands and wetlands.
The County Board’s Physical Development Committee approved the panel unanimously. 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.
The committee directed staff to return to the board in February with a proposed process for the creation of the panel.