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Braemar Winter Recreational Area

Senior, Max Kuhs at city council meeting

Senior, Max Kuhs at city council meeting

photo courtesy of Ben Gustafson

photo courtesy of Ben Gustafson

Senior, Max Kuhs at city council meeting

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On Wednesday, September 7, the Edina City Council held a meeting at 7:00 PM which lasted for a total of 6 hours and 3 minutes. The hot topic of the night that made for such a drawn-out meeting was the Braemar Winter Recreation Area project.

Although the public hearing was held on Wednesday, Edina residents, whether they were opposed to or in favor of the proposed plan, were already voicing their opinions well before the meeting. For instance, it has been difficult in the months leading up to the City Council meeting to drive down a street in Southwest Edina without spotting a “Keep Braemar Green and Safe” sign. The signs call for Edina residents to sign a petition on “BraemarGreen.org” in order to persuade the City Council “to halt planning and development of the Nordic Ski Trail in Braemar Golf Course.” On the other side of the debate, those with favorable opinions of the trails advocated by letting the Edina High School Nordic Ski Team know what was going on, sending emails to the City Council, and going door to door to ask for support.

During the City Council meeting, the Edina Park and Recreation Director, Ann Kattreh, began the public hearing by giving some background on how the project came to fruition. First, she described the city’s efforts at increasing the year-round use of the Braemar area. As an example, Kattreh stated that in January of this year, Braemar hosted their first ever snowshoeing event, which was “incredibly popular.” She also discussed the poor long term viability of the current trails used by the Edina High School Nordic Ski Team. And in an attempt to quell the belief that the project was rushed, Kattreh pointed out the numerous public outreach programs that were utilized prior to the City Council meeting including “press releases, direct mailings, an open house, multiple articles in Sun Current, Star Tribune, City Extra, and social media.”

Kattreh then introduced Paul Pasko, a man with “significant experience doing Nordic ski trails and machine made snow operations,” said Kattreh. Pasko presented every detail of the project, explaining the size of the Nordic trails, the size of the tubing hills, the prospect of mountain biking trails, the amount of snow needed to groom the trails, and the effects on the environment. Pasko made sure to also address concerns regarding overspray, noise, light, and traffic. “I think the plan was presented very well. The only problem was that lots of residents seemed to view the trails as rushed. [The plan] was fast tracked so that the trails could be made while the golf course was getting renovated, which would allow for more adaptability between the two projects. However, this projected a fear that the plans were not fully tested and that there would be problems with the project,” said senior Max Kuhs.

After Pasko finished his presentation, the Council asked for public testimony. “The community was split 50/50 between people for and against the project,” said Kuhs. The supporters argued how the trails would get the community “out during the winter season to work out and would provide three kilometers of skiing whether or not it snowed.” Whereas, “those against the bill, mostly people living next to the proposed trails, were worried about the slippery conditions of the roads that would result from snow overspray and that the project was moving along to quickly,” said Kuhs.

Before the public hearing began, Mayor Jim Hovland made sure to compliment Edina on the respect they had for their fellow residents and the City as a whole. “For the most part, the dialogue was so congenial, so professional, and so courteous,” said Hovland. In the end, the project did not pass, but Hovland believes it was the process that mattered most. “Democracy, the practice of self-government, is a covenant among free men to respect the rights and liberties of their fellows,” said Hovland, quoting former president Harry Truman.

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About the Writer
Ben Gustafson, print editor-in-chief

Ben “BennyGeezy” Gustafson came into this world on Thanksgiving of 1999 (unfortunately the hospital food wasn’t exactly the Thanksgiving dinner that...

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Braemar Winter Recreational Area