Ski Facility Owner Seeks Speed Up

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By: 
Kevin Murphy

TOWN OF MIDDLETON–The landowner seeking to have a cross-country skiing training facility built on his property asked the Town Board Monday not to be dragged into its boundary negotiations with the City of Middleton.

Since 2017, Dan Erdman of Erdman Enterprises, has planned to donate eight acres he owns just north of Pleasant View Golf Course on which Yuri Gusev, director of the Central Cross Country Skiing Association, will build a multi-million dollar training facility for Olympic skiers. 

Erdman would grant a recreational easement to the city across the remainder of the 160 acres he owns to be used for ski and non-motorized trails.

Erdman’s land is in the Town of Middleton but he wants the eight acres to be annexed into the City of Middleton and the rest to remain in the town.

To sweeten the deal, the city has agreed to maintain Schwartz Road, which would provide the main access to the property, Erdman said. An emergency access would be developed from the golf course.

Working with two municipalities has made the project complex, Erdman admitted, but now he feels the project is at risk as the city is reluctant to update a boundary agreement that the town has been seeking.

“If the project gets tied in with mediation between city and town, the airport issues, delays beyond end of year puts donations in jeopardy,” he told the board.

Gusev has been securing pledges and donations for the cost of an $8 million training center, plus the expense of interior roads and parking.

In order to defeat the delays, it may be quicker to have more of his land annexed into the city, Erdman said.

This summer the town has asked the Department of Administration to mediate boundary negotiations with the city. The city hasn’t acted on the request. However, that gave the town a chance to contest any annexations for 270 days.

On Monday, Town Chair Cynthia Richson asked Erdman why Pleasant View Road wasn’t chosen as the main access to his property, and would he consider building the entire project in the town.

Both Erdman and Gusev initially favored access from Pleasant View Road as it’s a shorter route, however, crossing the adjacent Welton property “is problematic” and engineers have concerns about the route, too, Erdman said.

“That doesn’t seem viable at this point,” he said.

A walking path would connect the golf course parking lot with the CXC trailhead during winter months, he said.

The city has offered about $270,000 to construct the walking path from the golf course property, Erdman said. 

“If the town has $250,000, we can talk,” he said.

Erdman said a Department of Natural Resources grant for the walking path would be in addition to what the city would donate.

Much has been going on behind the scenes and Erdman acknowledged that he hasn’t kept the town in the loop about the project’s progress but now that it’s nearing the finish line he wanted, “a signal from the board that you will work with us.”

“If the town and city make the necessary approvals this year, construction could begin next spring, and keep our donors happy,” Erdman said.

Richson thanked Erdman and Gusev for attending the virtual meeting but further board discussions took place in a closed session Monday night.

On Tuesday, Richson said the town’s main concern was the lack of access to the Erdman property that Schwartz Road provides.

Until a few years ago, Schwartz Road had only a private railroad crossing for the tracks located just south of US 14. When the Office of the Commissioner of Railroads made it a public crossing, he cautioned that that narrow road could only safely accommodate limited traffic, Richson noted.

Richson suspects there may be interest in making a “tourist hub” out of Gusev’s proposed $8 million training center which would increase Schwartz Road traffic and make safety a year-round concern. 

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