Large crowd turns out for OHV informational meeting in Houston

Houston County EDA Director Jordan Wilms (in striped sweater) explained some of the plans for the new off-road facility near Houston during an informational open house attended by several hundred persons Saturday in Houston. Photo by Charlie Warner

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

Several hundred interested persons turned out for an informational open house for the proposed Houston OHV Trail System this past Saturday afternoon at the Skifton Building in Houston.

Those attending received information and had an opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns about an OHV facility that may be located just south of Houston.

Proponents of the plans are hoping to develop a 70-acre tract of land that is just south of South Park in Houston into a facility that would serve motorcycles, ATVs and four-wheel drive vehicles.

Representatives from the city of Houston, Houston County, MN DNR, and OHV user groups were present to answer questions concerning the proposed Houston Trail System.

According to Karen Umphress, a member of the Coalition of Recreational Trail Users (CRTU), there are only two such facilities in the state. The one near Gilbert in northern Minnesota and the one near Appleton in the western part of the state both draw many users and have become economic boons to those areas.

“We’re hoping to design a facility near Houston that will bring the tourism traffic to the area, boost the local economy but yet not have a negative impact to those living near it due to noise and other issues,” Umphress stated.

She went on to explain that the climbing trails would be designed in a way that would keep the exhaust pipes of the vehicles using the facility aimed away from neighbors. Sound-proofing buffers would be installed to also reduce noise. And the facility, although built on the side of a hill, would be designed to curb water erosion issues.

“We’re trying to obtain as much information from the public during the planning stages,” Umphress noted. “This has been a good venue to hear the pros, the cons and the concerns that folks living here have brought up.

“We are very pleased with the number of persons who have turned out for this open house. It certainly indicates that there is a real interest in what we are proposing to do,” Umphress added.

All of the comments and concerns voiced at the meeting will be taken into account during the planning process of the proposed facility. Additional informational meetings will be planned in the future.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]