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The debate continues.
Dunes residents debate new bridge
By Alicia Ebaugh, Journal staff writer
DAKOTA DUNES -- To build or not to build -- that was the question about 100 Dakota Dunes residents wrestled with at a public forum Wednesday concerning the possibility of a bridge connecting Sioux City's trail system with the 12 miles of trails in Dakota Dunes.
Taking about an hour and 15 minutes, resident after resident spoke up at the Dakota Dunes Country Club to tell the Dakota Dunes Community Improvement District Board how they felt about the issue. More often than not, they supported the bridge connecting the two trails, but as board chairman Ron Prorock said, many expressed their support "upon the condition that this happen, or this doesn't happen."
"A lot of people think it's a good idea to connect it to the Two Rivers Drive Business Park instead of the residential area, but a lot of people don't want to take out taxpayer money to do it," Prorock said. "There are safety concerns, privacy concerns we have to consider."
The recreational bridge would be north of the existing interstate bridge, and the original plan was to connect the Dunes' trails directly to Sioux City's trail system, which already connects to South Sioux City's. For a limited time, the city of Sioux City has grant money available to fund half the project, and has said it will do so as long as the Dunes pays for the other half.
That's why the issue has come to a head in such a short time, Prorock said.
Many comments were directed toward a letter the CID board sent to residents explaining a compromise it had worked out to possibly connect the trail on the other side of the interstate to the business park and allow construction only if private donations from residents supplied the $120,000 needed to complete the bridge. Some called it a "political compromise" to please the vocal opposition -- some called it a good way to ease the tension.
A few people, such as one woman who lives at 818 E. St. Andrews Circle, said they were opposed to any connection between the trails because the burdens outweigh the benefits.
"This is a unique community, it's secluded, there's only one point of entry," said the woman, whose name wasn't clearly announced. "That's why we bought here, that's why we live here ... people coming in here without a connection to Dakota Dunes won't value that."
Others cited litter, graffiti and past break-ins as reasons to not connect. Nevertheless, some longtime residents like Alvin and Regina Roth stood up for the original idea -- to connect the trail to Dakota Dunes itself.
"I'm dismayed that people have reacted to the idea in a negative way. Sioux City is not the outside world," Regina Roth said. "We don't need a wall around us. We don't want to be snobs, but that's how we're coming off on this issue."
Resident Ed Hagen even suggested residents who are opposed to the bridge might want to make the Dunes a "Jurassic Park" community -- surrounded by a 30-foot tall electric fence.
The CID board will use the information gathered Wednesday during its Monday meeting at the Dakota Dunes Welcome Center, Prorock said, although it's unclear right now whether it will make a final decision on how the bridge will be implemented or just to pursue the option of a bridge in any form.