By Chad Koenen


Construction on the long-awaited Tyler Wohlers Trail near Ottertail is expected to take place next year. The trail will essentially connect the boat landing and fishing pier south of town to the heart of Ottertail. The trail will follow Highway 78 south of town. 

The trail has been a hot topic of conversation at Ottertail City Council meetings over the past several years as community members and organizations raised money to fund the construction of the trail in honor of Wohlers, who was killed by a hit and run driver in 2019. 

During its regularly scheduled meeting on June 15, the Ottertail City Council heard an update on the proposed walking path project from Bob Schliemann, of Apex Engineering. Thanks to several sizable grants and donations, the city has received approximately $604,000 to construct the walking path. His rough preliminary cost for the project was estimated at $422,000. 

With additional funding available, Schliemann said the city has several options at its disposal, including, extending the path a bit further down Highway 78, additional lighting and setting up a maintenance fund to help with future maintenance and repairs. 

“Maintenance is not cheap and it gets more expensive over time,” he said.

The plan for the walking path is expected to be finalized in the near future and bids on construction of the path will be sought next spring. The city council said it will discuss what it should do with any additional funding above and beyond the original plan for the walking path at a future meeting. 

In other news

• Accepted a donation from the Espeland Family Foundation for the Wohlers Trail and the Ottertail Lions Club for gear for the Ottertail Fire Department.

• Approved purchasing a new 25 foot flag pole for the Ottertail City Hall. 

• Heard a presentation about West Central Initiative from Samantha VanWechel-Meyer. West Central Initiative serves the area as a regional development organization that promotes business growth through gap financing, business development and acts as a 501c3 for local organizations and groups who raise money for various causes in the region. VanWechel-Meyer said there has been $126,760 in grants that has come into Ottertail through West Central Initiative’s community fund since 2015. 

• Received an update about the Maple Ave. South and alley north of the Ottertail Community Center project. The project continue to moves forward and the goal is to have the project completed later in July.