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Paved Trails at Hartley

I was out at Hartley Park this morning and saw that someone had posted signs letting visitors know that the city is considering paving a bunch of trails there. I looked up the mini master plan for Hartley that SRF Consulting Group prepared, and it does indeed call for paved trails running through the park to provide access for bikers, wheelchairs, and parents with strollers. I’m curious about what other PDDers think of this proposal.

35 Comments

Ogima

about 6 years ago

If it was done around the outer perimeter that would be nice to take my kids in the stroller or on their bikes.

wildknits

about 6 years ago

Years ago there was talk of paving (repaving?) Old Hartley Road. The plan was to leverage ISTEA money. It eventually got sidelined, not sure exactly why. May have had to do with the width of the road. 12 feet if I remember correctly, to allow for access by emergency vehicles. 

It would provide a nice, off Woodland, corridor for bike commuters (as was discussed previously when it was initially brought up). 

I think it would be helpful to hear from either Tom O'Rourke (executive director) or some of the board members as to their thoughts on the proposal.

Paul Lundgren

about 6 years ago

According to Wikipedia, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act expired in 1997. These days there's something called the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. So I guess instead of ISTEA the proper acronym is MAP-21.

And as a strange digression to this subject I just want to point out that "Paved Trails at Hartley" is the 6,666th post on Perfect Duluth Day since the blog was moved to the WordPress platform in 2009. The number kind of jumped off the dashboard at me, so I thought I'd mention it.

bluenewt

about 6 years ago

Wow. The Blog Post of the Beast.

bluenewt

about 6 years ago

The current proposal calls not just for paving Old Hartley Road, but paving a large loop, a small loop, and a bunch of access trails. It looks on the map as though they'd be paving the trail people call the Root Canal, all the way around the swamp, as well as a loop from the Nature Center.

I can see wanting an alternative bike route since Woodland was built with only cars in mind, but I think Hartley's charm is that it's undeveloped. It's a wild place right in the middle of town. I'd hate to see those trails widened and paved.

annefluke

about 6 years ago

Last Wednesday was the second public input meeting about the Hartley "Mini Master Plan." You can review maps and documents and submit comments on the draft plan through Dec. 20 (click the link in the original post). One more public meeting will be held in January (date TBD) before the plan goes to the Parks Commission and then to City Council. 

The staff and board of Hartley Nature Center (a not-for-profit educational organization independent from the city of Duluth) is one of many stakeholder groups (neighbors, mountain bikers, XC skiers) and regular old citizens/park users who have contributed to the planning process, which began last spring.

wildknits

about 6 years ago

Thanks Paul for doing the research I was too lazy to do on the various funding streams. 

Anne, thanks for your input as well. This past week's meeting was the first I had heard of the plan and unfortunately I wasn't able to attend.

I seem to remember a battle when we wanted to route the Superior Hiking Trail through the park, using some lightly used trails and building a few sections vs. Old Hartley Road. Seems like a huge change in focus if they are really talking about paving over significant amounts of trail. 

I am unable (or lack the patience) to download either the map or the plan. If a PDF takes longer then 20 minutes to download I attribute it to an issue with the hosting website and not my, slow but not that slow, internet. 

I am hopeful that sometime before the end of the comment period I will gain access to the documents so I can review them for myself and have my input noted.

annefluke

about 6 years ago

Wildknits (I won't use your real name!), I wonder if the maps would be posted at the Parks & Rec office for the next few weeks? I had to leave the meeting before I had a chance to look at what they had come up with since the August public mtg., so I would also be interested in seeing them (I can download them, but prefer the large size maps). 

For all: Parks & Rec public meetings are posted in the DNT and on PDD. You can subscribe to Parks & Rec press releases at duluthmn.gov. If you're on Facebook, "like" Duluth Parks to stay informed. Local organizations like Duluth XC Ski Club, COGGS, Wheels on Trails, Horse Alliance, etc. post Parks & Rec info on their websites and notify their members about current issues. 

Keep in mind that public meetings are not the only way to provide input: you can contact Parks & Rec by email, snail mail, or online comment form. Please do so! 

duluthmn.gov/parks

Todd

about 6 years ago

A big part of the reason I live in Duluth is because there are great, undeveloped parks like Hartley right in town. Putting paved trails and other "amenities" in would turn it into yet another mediocre park. I understand the desire to provide better access to a place like Hartley, but it just isn't possible. If you provide better access, it is no longer a place like Hartley.

As a resident of that area and frequent user of Hartley (nearly every day), I don't really want it to become a big regional park and tourist destination. I live near Hartley precisely because Hartley is the way it is.

Currently, Duluth has a balance between recreation opportunities/quality of life, and job opportunities. If Duluth intends to pursue this kind of development plan, it will lose that balance. Personally, if this is the future of Duluth, I'll be getting my house ready for sale and moving someplace that's either less developed or has better career options.

Endion

about 6 years ago

I know it will blow the minds of the hipsters of Duluth, but it probably would be nice to pave the trails to allow visitors who are handicapped to be able to experience nature and the beauty at Hartley. Whoa man, does that mean my granola outings won't be quite as "natural"? Yes it does hipster, yes it does. Lots of kids from local schools walk these trails and I feel bad for kids in wheelchairs who can't go down the muddy, beat up trails and experience what those of you brag about on your mountain biking excursions through the many parks of the area. Pave it for everyone to enjoy!

Todd

about 6 years ago

Duluth has plenty of attractions for the tourists. It seems like we could keep some for the people who live here, too.

runningman

about 6 years ago

I think there can definitely be a balance for everyone. Where some trails are paved and most will probably be left alone. Duluth, being a place where there is so much available hiking to explore can make a little more nature at a nature park accessible to the handicapped kids and the obese visitors.

Todd

about 6 years ago

As far as access issues are concerned, it is indeed unfortunate that not everybody has the same physical abilities as everyone else, and therefore not everyone is able to fully experience places like Hartley in it's present state. But, if we try to give everyone access to everywhere, we have to reduce everything to a parking lot. Then, I guess, we should probably start working on the fact that not everyone has the same economic access to everywhere. Vacation subsidies, perhaps?

There are places, like public buildings, where we can and should try to accommodate everyone. But, it simply isn't possible to do it for every place and activity.

Terry G.

about 6 years ago

Although I agree there should be some paved access at Hartley, the reality is that most of our city sidewalks are not even remotely handicapped/stroller accessible. Maybe we should start there.

norSKI

about 6 years ago

My aging parents. A formerly-able-bodied friend. My middle-age metabolism. Three firsthand experiences with the reality of 'move it or lose it.'  As I age and our society does too, accessibility seems less like a condition imposed by the politically-correct and more like smart planning. 

Especially here in Duluth, let us not restrict access to our public outdoor spaces to the young, fit and agile! Not every trail system can (or needs to) be made accessible but at least some of them can, and should.

Sam

about 6 years ago

I would not want the natural trails in Lester, Piedmont, Chester, and Hartley parks to be paved.  The world needs natural parks that aren't so developed.  That is why most of the trails at Yellowstone are not paved.  Paving would take away from the parks' natural beauty.

No matter what is paved, we will probably leave many of the trails in Lester, Piedmont, Chester, and Hartley unpaved.  We cannot pave them all.  Some trails will need to be left natural no matter what.  We cannot make all of Duluth accessible to everyone.

If we pave the trails, then the trails become more like the lakewalk, with more racing bicycles and inline skaters blowing past families walking the trail.  We need some space to get away from all that.

We already have miles of paved trails in Duluth and Superior, and many accessible parks all over.  We do not need to spend millions of dollars creating and maintaining more paved trails when the natural trails are good for most people anyway.  We should spend that money maintaining the parks and trails we already have.

Is this a general idea that the city of Duluth should pave the natural trails in the major city parks like Lester, Piedmont, Chester, and Hartley?  It seems that any reason to pave Hartley would also be a reason to pave to at least many of the other parks in Duluth.

wildknits

about 6 years ago

Finally able to download the plan and presentation. No option to view the maps at the Parks & Recs office as I work full-time (aka same hours as city offices are open). 

Great discussion happening. I understand the appeal of paved trails to increase access to all. I also understand the concern about our current city infrastructure not being all that wheelchair or stroller friendly. It's not in many parts of the city. But that seems to be another discussion entirely as I am guessing this plan is predicated on leveraging some of the Legacy money from the State. 

The plan seems to provide for a decent balance, though I have concerns about some of the areas they are proposing to pave (up to Rock Knob the steep way from the pine woods?!; in areas with wet soils and that are prone to flooding?). As I said earlier, previous plans to pave a path involved a really wide trail. Is that still the plan? I did not see anything in the documents that indicated trail width. 

I was in on some of the early work to establish the nature center as well as the Superior Hiking Trail through the park. I have been recreating in the park for over 25 years. I remember the days when I would get lost, and would have appreciated better signage back then, so that seems a reasonable goal (look at what COGGS has done in the area - discrete but helpful). 

I wonder about the concerns about a lack of beginner ski trails. Odd as this is one of the places (the place?!) our kids learned to cross-country ski. Possibly better marking of the ski trails is needed to guide folks to the truly easier trails (without sharp curves at the base of a hill) within the park?

Off to submit my comments to the plan....

Emerickson

about 6 years ago

Before anyone jumps to conclusions about how paving certain trails will destroy the entire natural ambiance of the park, I strongly recommend that interested parties attend the scheduled informational sessions, or at least one of them. An amazing amount of time, thought, and planning goes into all proposals for updating and improving our parks. Citizen input is valued and influences the planning process. 

As a member of the Parks Commission, I have witnessed very long, impressive, detailed presentations by highly qualified individuals who have created amazing Master Plans for our beautiful and unique parks. These experts take into consideration the natural/historical design of the park, resident preferences and concerns, environmental issues, accessibility concerns (as required by law, in addition to make the parks available for use by a wide cross section of our community), and many other issues and ideas. They look at what has worked and what hasn't for other similar spaces in other areas while also treating each park as a unique space with special meaning to the community. The presenters are very knowledgeable and able to answer nearly all imaginable questions, and even some questions you would never imagine a person would ask about a park.

Also, please keep in mind that Master Plans are long-range goals; not blueprints that will be fully implemented over night. It will usually take upwards of 10 years to complete all stages/aspects of a Master Plan. Millions of dollars are required to complete each Master Plan, and we have been doing Master Plans for several parks each year since the Parks Referendum passed. The progress of each Plan will depend on funding, which needs to come from a variety of sources because the city cannot afford to fully improve each park in accordance with each Master Plan. We need to find grants, obtain donations, etc. to help fund each part of each plan. 

So, basically, my point is, attend the public meetings, take in the immense amount of info available, ask questions, keep an open mind, and don't fret. The process is slow and thorough and the citizens of Duluth, the Parks Commission, and the City Council will ensure that any improvements made to the parks will be done in a responsible and respectful manner. 

Follow Duluth Parks on Facebook and subscribe to Duluth city e-mail notices.

[email protected]

about 6 years ago

Increased accessibility is always a good thing.

Sam

about 6 years ago

Two experts can listen to the same things and come to opposite conclusions.  Two experts can take into consideration the same natural/historical design of the park, resident preferences and concerns, etc., and come to opposite conclusions. So the fact that experts are doing this stuff could mean anything.  It could go either way, depending on the experts involved.  

Many of the current city park experts are experts in city parks.  City parks in most cities are paved parks (with gazebos, swing sets, etc.).  Most city park experts are not experts in unpaved natural parks.  

Experts like what they know, and many of the experts in this case know paved parks.  If all the experts involved came from the national park service, we would have a very different outcome, since those experts are not so into paving their parks.  This is what makes national parks distinct and unique places to visit.

Most city parks in the United States are paved parks.  City park experts will generally want our parks to be like the Lakewalk, Enger, Bayfront, Chester, Portland Square, etc., paved with city park entertainments.  It is good to have some parks like this.  However, we have some special natural parks that are not like other cities' parks.  

Natural parks like Hartley, Lester, Piedmont, Magney-Snively, and parts of Park Point are unique to Duluth.  Turning these natural treasures into regular city parks is to make Duluth like any other city.  It would change the character of the city.  I think that experts in paved city parks should keep their hands off our natural parks that make Duluth so amazing.  In this case, less is more.

Endion

about 6 years ago

Hartley is used by many schools for field trips and should thus be accessible to all people. If you don't think there are enough trails here that are not paved than you are not really looking around. Hartley is nearly in the middle of the city and could be one park that is paved. It isn't like they are talking about paving paradise for a parking lot, they are talking about paving a few trails. If you can't handle it go a few miles north and walk the Superior Hiking Trail or the other miles and miles of unpaved trails around here. It is funny how one person responded all snide about obese people, but that really shows more about some attitudes here than the true nature behind some Duluthians. Another poster said that there are too many unaccessible areas so we should just give up, which is counterproductive. Let's make this city great for everyone and learn to share.

runningman

about 6 years ago

It wasn't my intent to be snide. It was an attempt at logical continuation of another post. The fact of the matter is that you pave trails for the handicapped, the obese, the elderly, etc... so they may enjoy what able bodied others enjoy. Those who are against reasonable compromises for public parks need to find a place where they don't have to be bound to a common welfare. The City of Duluth has plenty of public land within its borders to share with others. Just don't sell it.

emmadogs

about 6 years ago

Wow, I am so opposed to paving Hartley.  Duluth is unique and such a tremendous city to live in because of Hartley, Lester, et al's wilderness in the middle of the city.  Incidentally, I say this as someone who can't really use Hartley now.  This is likely where I picked up a tick that made me very sick, ended my running and hiking days, and made me partially disabled.  Nonetheless, I use the Lakewalk and Chester Bowl now.  I cherish our city because of its accessibility to those of limited physical means, and to those of better physical means who cherish the opportunity to get into the "wild" within 5 minutes of your front door (as I did, pre-Lyme, living in Upper Woodland).

Don't pave anything more in Hartley, please.

Todd

about 6 years ago

Sigh. I was just going to leave this post alone, since I doubt anyone is changing the mind of anyone else. But, I feel I need to respond to runningman.

1) If you pave the trails, nobody enjoys what the 'able bodied' enjoyed, because it no longer exists. You've changed it.

2) Reasonable compromises have already been made. There are many places in Duluth that go out of their way to provide access to all. How long is the lakewalk now? And it terminates at both ends at highly accessible parks. There are other parks, too, not to mention the hundreds of miles of roads and sidewalks. We even have a skywalk system where people can go exercise without even going outside.

It seems those of us who wish to preserve bits of the outdoors are always being asked to be "reasonable" and share and compromise. So, we compromise. Then we're asked again over the smaller remaining parcel. And so it goes. Over and over. Each time we lose and the people who want to develop it win.

3) Accusing me of being unconcerned with the "common welfare" is petty and lame. You know nothing about me. As only one example of many, I long ago chose to not have children, and yet I vote to increase spending on education. Providing for the common welfare does NOT mean providing all things for all people, but trying to balance the needs and desires of everyone. I have no interest in, and get no benefit out of, many of the things that my tax dollars are spent on, but I don't go around trying to take everything but what I want away from others.

Like others who have chimed in here, I also am getting older and an unable to do some of the things I used to do in the outdoors. But, even were I unable to go there at all, I would still try to provide areas for those who can. To do otherwise would be selfish.

runningman

about 6 years ago

Todd - Hartley Nature Center's mission statement; "Hartley Nature Center Provides Opportunities for Understanding, Appreciation, and Stewardship of the Natural World." 

Hartley is not just for the folks who live a few blocks from the place. It's geared for educating the public of how nature functions. So it's more than just a park, or the lake walk, or a sidewalk, or the sky walk. It's an environmental lab.

I suppose you can argue that a few paved trails will upset the ecosystem. But you know what, just the fact the we exist upsets the ecosystem. Whether it's pissing into the toilet or heating your home or hiking in the park, we inadvertently mess shit up.

A few trails where people with accessibility needs can learn about the importance of wetlands, forest duff layers, riparian areas, critters, birds, etc... in a nature center is not going to hurt anyone. In fact, it helps us all in the long run.

Shane

about 6 years ago

It is not like there has never been pavement in Hartley, there used to be a paved soapbox derby track.
Nothing wrong with paving an accessible trail. Pave the existing gravel road and old road that goes through the park. 
My opinion, adding a loop of asphalt and paving all of the access points as shown in the master plan is a bit excessive.

[email protected]

about 6 years ago

I hate to say it, but I am tempted to a little hyperbole:

Anyone who wants to preserve natural spaces by resisting paved paths at Hartley who also consumes any quantity of power generated by fossil fuels is at least in a problematic ethical position.

I cannot think of a context in which greater accessibility is not a good thing;  concrete paths can be designed to minimize aesthetics, and after the storms of last year, in which runoff on unpaved trails both limited access and damaged aesthetics, I'm not sure I buy arguments about the superiority of unpaved trails.

Endion

about 6 years ago

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-ECjPZ2f8o

Watch this video. You can skip about 3.5 minutes in to hear Joni talk about tourists ruining things, but after that she goes into the best version of her trademark song.

mevans

about 6 years ago

@rhetoricguy: "I cannot think of a context in which greater accessibility is not a good thing."

As an example, let's look at many of the small, natural lakes of the BWCA. Much of what makes these lakes such great destinations, is that they are not so easily accessible, requiring someone to hike/ski/canoe for miles to get to them. They have some of the best scenery and the fishing is consistently good because of their remote nature. Now imagine if there were a highway or road built to go directly to this lake, increasing accessibility. Soon, this lake would have more fishing pressure (as one example) and would negatively impact what was once a great thing. 

As far as runoff ... look at the paved trail off Vermillion Road along Congdon Creek ... completely washed away, so I don't quite buy that argument.

I'm not saying I'm against some paved trails at Hartley, but I think it should be kept to a minimum, and only on the high traffic, main trail(s).

bluenewt

about 6 years ago

I agree with mevans. Natural forces are a reason NOT to pave trails. They get wrecked by ice, runoff, tree roots and grass. 

I can see that paving a nature trail loop near the nature center so disabled kids can take advantage of educational opportunities at Hartley might be a good idea. Can anyone tell me -- this is a real question -- whether people in wheelchairs would be likely to use long trails that wind around the swamp and up to the rock knob if they were paved? 

I used to bike the Munger Trail several times a week, and I never saw people pushing strollers or using wheelchairs on it, even where it runs through neighborhoods. I only saw other bikers. 

I'm not sure paving the longer loops is really a question of access. It seems like a question of whether that part of the park is for hikers and mountain bikers seeking a natural setting or for people who want developed amenities like paved bike trails.

[email protected]

about 6 years ago

1.  "Access" does not mean "a highway or road built to go directly to this lake, increasing accessibility" -- it means (in basic principle) that anyplace a person can walk, they should also be able to roll;  anyplace they can walk safely if negotiated by sight, they should be able to negotiate without it, and so on.  Talking about highways in the boundary waters is a straw man.

2.  Paraphrase:  One paved trail washed out, so there is clearly no value to paved trails.  Comment:  Also, mass transit doesn't work in Eveleth, so it must not work anywhere;  Apollo 17 didn't make it to the moon, so let's stop now.

3.  Paraphrase:  I don't see disabled people using my amenities, so we shouldn't design with their access in mind.  Comment:  Sigh?

4.  I can't help but laugh at the opposition between "paved trails" and "natural setting" in a park which is filled with invasive species plants and a man-made pond, off a bus line in a town of 86,000 people.  Natural here just means "natural to me because I am accustomed to it" -- and people can only become accustomed to what they have access to.

I used to ask my students to run a project designing an improvement in facilities or operations at a local non-profit.  One employee at an un-named local non-profit was asked whether Braille would improve signage at the facility.  The employee responded that he didn't think so;  he never served blind patrons at the facility.  

This is the definition of "facepalm."

Endion

about 6 years ago

Thank you rehetoricguy! Great points and you are nailing it.

Here is the first paragraph of Hartley's mission statement:

Understanding - We are all about education. Hartley serves more than 20,000 visitors a year, including more than 12,000 school aged children through field trips, special events and public programs. If people have a clearer picture of how nature functions, we believe they will enjoy it more and do all they can to protect it.

So, 12,000 kids go there to learn about nature, but if it was up to a few posters in this thread that would mean that the kids who have disabilities should stay near the parkinglot. The only reason I even posted here was because one person said they would move if it happened as it would ruin their experience. I cannot stand non-compromising opinions that put self-interest ahead of what is good for the majority - especially young kids with disabilities. I want all people to be able to enjoy nature.

secretseasons

about 6 years ago

Someone mentioned that the National Parks don't pave, and someone else specifically mentioned Yellowstone. I found these comments perplexing. The National Parks have a lot of paved or otherwise accessible trails and features. Yellowstone even has an accessible backcountry campsite (with trail to get there).

RightElbow

about 6 years ago

Feeling motivated to add my  two cents - just in particular about the "Root Canal" trail, since it's such a great stretch of single track.

As I understand it, there is a proposal to remove an existing use (mountain bike, hiking, trail running, snowshoeing, fat biking) on the unpaved single-track Root Canal to provide a new use (better access for disabled/limited mobility). Why not provide better access in addition to the beneficial existing use, rather than instead of? Has a parallel paved trail been considered, or paved access elsewhere on this side of the park? The existing use of the trail is popular - I'm out there often trail running (2-3x per week) and almost always run into at least 2 other user groups hiking/biking/etc.

I'm also worried about increased, rather than decreased, user conflicts caused by a paved Root Canal. With no single-track access to the mountain bike trails from the Hartley Road park entrance, users coming into the park from that side will be on paved trail until they reach the designated mountain-bike area. Right now, bikers are traveling pretty slowly on the technical single-track. Hikers, runners, and bikers have plenty of time to notice and react to each other on the current trail set up, and while running out there I've actually never had a negative interaction with someone in another user group. On a paved trail, even the most respectful bikers will probably be going 10 m.p.h. to reach the mountain bike area - significantly faster than walkers.

I can't argue that Hartley (or really, Duluth in general) shouldn't have a goal of being more accessible to those with limited mobility. I'd just like to see this proposal tweaked to allow a currently awesome trail to remain!

Paul Lundgren

about 5 years ago

The Mini Master Plan for Hartley Park has been updated and posted for review on the city's website.

Hartley Park Master Plan, June 2014

The Parks Commission will take up the issue at its July 9 meeting. Final public comments are being taken until that time. Use the form linked to in this very sentence.

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