Rhinelander snowmobile crossing to remain open another year
By Eileen Persike
It may still be summer, but winter was on the minds of a number of citizens at last week’s Rhinelander City Council meeting. With snowmobile trail maps ready to be drawn, Hodag Sno-Trails members needed to know the crossing at north Stevens to Menominee Drive would be available this winter.
Club president Scott Hetland said having no crossing to the city would lead to dead-end trails at both sides of Stevens Street, having a devastating impact on the business community.
“The club has done its due diligence looking for other routes,” Hetland told the council. “We will not give up. This current crossing is our best option going forward this season.”
Scott Borths, owner of Shoeder’s RV & Marine, also spoke during the public comment period. He praised the council for steps it has taken to move the city forward, and urged the council not to move backward.
“Winter is hard on bars and restaurants and hotels around here,” Borths said. “We don’t need to make it harder on them.”
When the council voted to move agenda item relating to trail crossing ahead, a motion was made and unanimously approved to establish the snowmobile crossing at Stevens Street and along Menominee Drive and Shawnee Lane for the 2021-22 snowmobile season. A second motion was approved to hire an engineer to research alternate trail route locations in the WIS 17 and Stevens Street area.
City administrator Zach Vruwink told the club members the city “fully understands and appreciates what impact the snowmobile trail and activity in the winter generates for the community,” adding that the city is looking for a “safer and more permanent” crossing.
Council president Ryan Rossing said he thinks some previously closed properties have been opened up and expects alternative routes will be found.
“As a city, I think what we want to do is look for a trail with the most economic benefits for us, the safest, most fiscally responsible system and I’m not sure coming down Menominee to Shawnee, after this year is going to be the best way,” Rossing said.
The snowmobile crossing has been on city council agendas for several months. Rhinelander Mayor Chris Frederickson had said previously he would not support the crossing because Menominee and Shawnee were not included in the ordinance covering snowmobile crossings.