Additional fundraising underway to complete new walking trail

By Chad Koenen


A final push to raise enough money to fund the Tyler Wohlers Memorial Trail is underway in Ottertail. 

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday night, the Ottertail City Council discussed the walking trail along Highway 78. The trail begins near the fishing pier and Otter Tail Lake boat access and heads north to town. 

One of the organizers for the memorial trail, Bernie Steeves, said the group has raised approximately $130,000 for the trail. However, additional fundraising will be necessary as costs for completing the work continues to rise. 

On Thursday, the Ottertail City Council said it received a low bid of $180,347 from Williams Excavation and Seeding, LLC from Elbow Lake, Minn. to complete the construction work on the new walking trail. The bid was the lowest of four the city received, which went all the way up to nearly $267,000. 

With the other associated costs involved in the project, as well as a contingency, the total cost of the project was estimated at $255,000. That cost is significantly higher than the original estimate of $210,000 and an estimate of $225,000 in May of 2021. 

“Obviously things have gone up a little bit because of the things going on in the world, which are out of our hands,” said Bob Schliemann of Apex Engineering.

Schliemann said if the council wanted to move forward with the project it would need to purchase wetland credits, coordinate with the Otter Tail Power Company to relocate some of their overhead power infrastructure within the Highway 78 corridor and will need a temporary grading easement. 

Even though the city has 75 days to award the bid to Williams Excavating and Seeding, LLC, he encouraged the city council to not wait too long due to the additional work involved in making the project a reality this year. 

The council gave Steeves until the April city council meeting to see if the additional money for the project could be raised, before deciding if it should award the bid or hold off on the project until a later date.

Photo by Chad Koenen

Additional fundraising may be necessary to make the new Tyler Wohlers Memorial Trail a reality in Ottertail.