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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

City Postpones Hiring Lawyer for Bike Trail Eminent Domain

Two phrases I do not like to see in the same article: eminent domain and recreation trail. Those phrases were on the Madison City Commission agenda last night. The city was to consider authorizing a contract with Jencks & Jencks, P.C., to handle "legal and eminent domain actions" in acquiring the land necessary for the proposed Lake Herman bike trail. The contract approved up to $30,000 for the legal work (with the possibility of amendment upward), with hourly pay for the lawyers at $80.

But that item didn't stay on the agenda. At the beginning of the meeting, City Engineer Chad Comes asked for its removal.

The agenda change probably means little, probably just some more paperwork needs to be done before offering a contract to the law firm.

But if the city is even thinking of using eminent domain for the bike trail, they have a long row to hoe before getting the public (or me) on board.


  1. Michael Black4/27/2010 5:52 AM

    I can tell you that some Madison residents are unhappy that there is a bike trail going to Johnson's Point. A few area citizens have voiced their frustrations over bike traffic on Hwy 81 during the recent Community Center Triathlon. Cyclists are looked upon as road hazards. I think the time has past for a Lake Herman bike trail. That is really too bad because there is a need for such a trail, but I don't think the public is going to support taking someone's land.

    We ride on the county roads. The existing bike trails are not long enough for a serious ride. It means that we always have to be careful and be attentive to oncoming traffic.

  2. Michael-

    We've run into similar opinions out here in Rapid City. Here at least it's a very vocal minority that opposes more bike paths/lanes. They are sometimes hard to deal with because their argument basically comes down to "I DON'T LIKE CHANGE" which we all can at least understand.

    Generally, we've found that it's best to appeal to their sense of community to deal with them rather than taking the hard-line position that the law is on the biker's side. It's difficult for even the crankiest to come up with arguments why bike paths aren't good things for their kids and grand kids.

  3. How about some real change: try Secretary Lahood's interstate biking system!

  4. So the city of Madison is/was prepared to spend $30,000.00 @ $80.00 and hour for the legal work to declare eminent domain. Jencks is already the city attorney but it would require a separate contract to do the city work that as city attorney he is supposed to do? How can he lose?

    Maybe the legal system needs to be reformed too.

    Tim Higgins


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