Disney to purchase Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail

By KAREN PARKER | County Line Editor

As part of the continuing efforts by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to privatize government services, Cathy Stepp, Department of Natural Resources Secretary, announced last week that the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail will be sold to Tinkerbelle Enterprises, a part of the Walt Disney parks and resorts division.

Budget cuts have left the DNR strapped and shorthanded in recent years. Selling off public property is one way not only to bring cash into the general treasury, but also to relieve the DNR of maintenance duties so that employees can be deployed to other areas.

“It only made sense to sell the first bike trail into the system first. If this works out, the other 30 state trails will be liquidated over the next decade, ” Stepp said.

She added that visitors to the Elroy-Sparta Trail would appreciate the more “Disney-like” atmosphere. Access will be controlled by a series of gates, which will be strategically between Elroy and Sparta and where wristbands can be purchased for the many attractions at various points. Tunnel No. 3 is expected to draw the most attention: it will be fully lit, have piped-in music and be lined with arcade games. Kids will enjoy scooting along the trail in miniature trains, and adults can zoom along on motorcycles.

Although the trail won’t be outfitted with a giant Mickey Mouse or Snow White, it will boast costumed tunnel watchers, track layers, engineers, conductors and, of course, gandy dancers. All will be equipped to sell refreshments and souvenirs.

“Times have changed” Stepp added. “People are no longer content with a quiet experience in nature. In truth, they probably never were. We want, even crave, endless noise and stimulation. By next year, they will have it on the Elroy-Sparta Trail, and we will have set an example to the nation of how to convert public land to cash and endless fun.”

Walker’s past efforts at privatization have met with mixed results. As Milwaukee County executive, he fired 26 unionized courthouse security guards, replacing them with private security contractor Wackerhut G45. An arbitrator later ruled that Walker had misrepresented a county budget crisis as the reason for the firing and ordered that all the guards be rehired with back pay.

As governor, Walker attempted to privatize the state’s food and medical assistance program in 2011, replacing government workers with private employees. A state audit revealed that using private employees would violate federal rules and the state could lose as much as $42 million in federal funding for the Food Share program.

None of these issues is expected to be a barrier in converting the state’s bike trails into private enterprises.

(Happy April Fool’s Day! Article was edited March 30 to include this greeting.)

Comments are closed.

  • Knights of Columbus seeks gifts for Rolling Hills Home residents

    November 25th, 2014
    by

    Begun several years ago by the Tomah Knights of Columbus, Christmas for the Elderly is an annual project that benefits residents


    Sen. Baldwin representative to hold office hours in Cashton

    November 25th, 2014
    by

    Sen. Baldwin representative to hold office hours in Cashton John Medinger, a regional representative for U.S. Sen.


    A 1970s Christmas on display at Monroe County Local History Room

    November 25th, 2014
    by

    The Monroe County Local History Room in Sparta will offer an exhibit, “A Very 1970s Christmas Display,” through Saturday, Jan. 10.


  • Nearly 800 runners compete in Norwalk marathon

    November 19th, 2014
    by

    About 789 runners converged on Norwalk for the seventh annual Rails to Trails Marathon Nov. 2. The race attracts runners […]


    Lyme disease support group meets Nov. 28

    November 19th, 2014
    by

    A Lyme disease support group for Vernon County and neighboring counties will meet from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, […]


    Brookwood takes to the stage

    November 19th, 2014
    by

    Last weekend, Brookwood High School students performed “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” a dramatic adaptation of the book by the […]


  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    Letter to the Editor: Notice of hearing set for Badger Coulee transmission project

    The Brush Creek Valley, where we live, has changed some over the years, but it remains closer to its natural state than many other inhabited parts of this country.

    Pastor Peace Kim speaks to Elroy Woman’s Club

    The Elroy Woman’s Club met Nov. 18 in the newly remodeled meeting room in the lower level of the Elroy Public Library.

    Kendall High School class of 1954 holds reunion

    Our 60th class reunion was Aug. 30 at the Elroy American Legion Hall.