Columbus officials have created what they hope to be a short-term solution to its snowmobile problem.
City Attorney Paul Johnson drafted an ordinance adjustment that will allow snowmobile access to areas on the outskirts of the city. Council members supported the change at the Committee of the Whole meeting Nov. 7 at city hall and could approve the adjustment at its next council meeting Nov. 21.
The snowmobile issues were debated at last month’s council and committee of the whole meetings and members of the Columbus/Fall River Blazers Snowmobile Club were concerned the city would restrict sled usage this winter. The city had developed an inter-city trail a few years ago, but some riders allegedly abused the trail and drove along sidewalks and close to residential homes.
“Before we had inter-city trails, we had trails on the outskirts of town and it looks like the council supports that to be useful for snowmobilers,” City Administrator Patrick Vander Sanden said. “We’re trying to see how we can make that work through an ordinance and then address some of the other issues.
“It’s going to be more of a short-term action by the council. It will be in place for this year, but there is interest by the council and the Blazers to keep working on something long-term that could be workable for everyone.”
Since the inter-city trail system failed, the city wants to form a plan that works for years to come.
“We want to focus on lessons learned and see what could work,” Vander Sanden said.
merry go round
The city is interested in preserving an old merry go round at Washington Park.
The park is in the process of getting new playground equipment, but some Columbus residents would like to see the merry go round preserved. The city is hoping to sell it and is opening it up for bids.
“My concern is that the merry go round was in there for many years and you probably couldn’t put it up today because of regulations and safety concerns,” Vander Sanden said. “We’ve talked to the city attorney to make sure we have a fair bidding process. We’ll be sending out a notice to anyone who wants to bid on that.”
The old playground equipment also includes a swing set and slide that the city intends to sell.
Highway 89 project grants
While the work is still a few years away, Columbus is already preparing for a large Department of Transportation road project along Highway 89.
The city is making initial plans and looking to obtain grant funding for the 2021 project. Vander Sanden said the city can use funds from the DOT to enhance the work, similar to grants used to spruce up the James Street project. The city put in colored crosswalks and decorative street lights.
“There isn’t as big a grant, but there is interest in doing colored crosswalks (for Highway 89),” Vander Sanden said. “We presented that to DOT, but the sticky point is, unlike James Street, Highway 89 is going to be asphalt, so it doesn’t work well to put colored concrete and asphalt together. The council has some other ideas to maybe enhance safety along crosswalks by the pool and the schools along that way.”
Since grant funding doesn’t come along often, Columbus wants to take advantage and use funds wisely. The DOT is holding an informational session Nov. 15 to discuss the Highway 89 project. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at Columbus High School.