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Beach gears up for golf course improvements, including walking, biking path

Though southwest North Dakota is still blanketed by snow, the city of Beach is gearing up for summer by planning improvements to its golf course, which include a walking and biking path that would swing through town and along the golf course.

"I think Beach is one of the few communities that does not have a walking trail," City Auditor Kim Nunberg said. "You go to Watford (City), Medora, you can go down the list and they all have a walking trail."

Beach has worked with community members and state agencies over the past few years to improve its nine-hole golf course.

"This year we hope to put an elevated green in with contributions from Golden West Electric in Wibaux, (Mont.), and Legacy Reserves LP has donated materials to make an elevated green so we don't have flooding problems with it," said Bernie Schillo, member of the Beach City Golf Course board.

The board is also working to replace the artificial greens with either new turf or real grass.

While the city owned and operated the course throughout its existence, it has been leasing the land for three of its holes until this year, when it purchased the remaining 14.24 acres.

"We can go forward with improvements," Schillo said. "Some of the work we've done thus far is worked with the North Dakota (Game and Fish Department) and dug our pond out -- deepened it so our water channel is more effective than flooding the golf course."

The pond is all used for children to fish in the summer, Nunberg said.

Another part of the improvements will link a multipurpose trail through the golf course and the city itself. During the summer, walkers and bikers will be able to take a stroll around town.

"It's a great way to get your community members engaged in healthy living," Nunberg said. "As well as creating a safe route for pedestrians and bicycles so that they have a safe route to go on."

It will link to Beach's Safe Routes to School trail, which provides all students with a safe route to get to and from school on foot or by bicycle, and to travel between schools, Nunberg said. All meals are served at the elementary school.

The city plans to create the path in phases, she said.

In order to help with the cost of building the path, the city has applied for grants through several organizations, including the North Dakota Department of Transportation and Bikes Belong, a national group that promotes the use of bikes in cities across the country.

"With our grants, we try to be geographically diverse," said Zoe Kircos, grants manager for Bikes Belong. "I don't think we have ever granted in North Dakota because we have just never gotten applications. I'm excited for a grant (application) to come in from North Dakota and to see them putting in bicycle infrastructure."

It offers about $200,000 in grants each year to local governments in increments up to $10,000, she said. This year, $75,000 is available in its open grant program. The rest is designated for invitation-only grants geared toward certain projects.

"We've definitely seen a huge boost in the number of applications that we get, which I take to mean that more and more cities and communities are trying to improve cycling in their community and make it safe and accessible for people of all ages for both commuting and recreation," Kircos said.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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