A bit of good news on the Gandy Dancer issue. On the April 21st meeting, the Burnett County voted to continue the use of the two existing special use permits (this year only), but not expand to 5 permits as was proposed. There are a lot of people who dedicated a tremendous amount of their free time to make this happen, so many, in fact, that it's difficult to list them all. The silver lining in all this is that it has been wonderful to see the cycling community come together. Thank you for your activism, participation, and letters. However, the fight isn't over yet.
The Burnett county decision is very encouraging, but if there's one thing that this ordeal has made clear, it's that the cycling community cannot take the Gandy Dancer trail for granted. We've seen efforts made to motorize the Gandy every year since CyclovaXC opened, and there's no reason to expect those efforts to stop.
The Gandy is a tremendous resource to cyclists and families, and I think we all need to adopt a mindset of protecting, promoting, and utilizing the trail. Also, it's important to remember that the efforts to convert the trail are coming from a very vocal minority. In our efforts to preserve the Gandy in its current state, it's critical that we don't cause ill-will (people have been doing a great job of presenting their arguments in a calm and reasonable fashion--thanks).
It's important to note that the Polk County board will also be voting on this issue soon, and we can't sit back and relax until that meeting has happened. Also, we have to take the momentum from the Burnett County decision and build on it to ensure the Gandy becomes untouchable. There are a lot of productive and positive things we can do for the community such as:
- Organize as many silent sports events as possible on the trail (if you can utilize part of the trail for an upcoming event, do so)
- Continue to take photos of yourself and your family when you're out on the trail and post those photos to social media (the more people that see families using the trail, the better)
- When your rides on the Gandy cause you to stop in at businesses, let those businesses know that the Gandy Dancer trail brought you
- Continue to write letters to local papers about how useful the Gandy is. To this day a large portion of the community is under the misconception that the Gandy "isn't used." We can change this perception with pictures, anecdotes, and invitations to ride
- Always be positive!
If you want to be on the Gandy "action list" just send me an email with "Gandy" in the subject line (email@example.com). The Burnett County decision is a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. Once again, thanks to everyone for your efforts! We'll keep you informed about the upcoming Polk County meeting.