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EAGAN, Minn. - Take a stroll into the Lebanon Hills Regional Park and you might think you are 200 miles from Minneapolis instead of just 20.

"It's kind of like a hidden treasure," said Larry Berglund who cross-country skis at the park.

But a new Dakota County proposal to alter the 2,000 acre park has some worried that feeling of solitude will be anything but.

The county plans to spend about $30 million over the next 20 years to change portions of the land by improving the ecology of the park and access to it.

"And so we can provide recreation that would allow everyone to use the park because ultimately Lebanon is a public park," said Steve Sullivan, Dakota County Parks Director.

Part of the proposal adds more trails including a hard surface connector trail in the heart of the park.

"The current alignment stays on more of the perimeter on one end of the park, but then goes to the center of the park where there were old farm fields," said Sullivan.

Some residents are concerned about the environmental impacts the proposed changes may have on the land.

"A goal to achieve accessibility for all abilities in natural spaces is a worthy goal and we all want that but how to achieve that is where we have a difference," said Holly Jenkins.

Jenkins is leading a group of residents that is opposed to the current plan. She and others favor a proposal that would put a trail on the outskirts of the park which was part of the county's 2001 master plan. They believe that will preserve the natural resources in the area.

"That connector trail changed somewhere between 2001 and 2013 to a regional bike trail 10 to 12 feet of asphalt, 5 percent grade through the middle of hilly park," she said.

No decisions have been made yet. Dakota County officials held the fourth open house on this issue Tuesday night with dozens attending, including Tim Barton.

He is in favor of the county's current proposal. He spends most of his time in a wheel chair after suffering a spinal cord injury while serving in the military.

"Disabled people, to be able to explore the whole park would be a difference of night and day," said Barton who is a member of Paralyzed Veterans of America. "There would be family events the whole family could enjoy."

The Dakota County Board will meet on this issue Feb. 11, but a county spokesperson doesn't believe any decisions will be made until sometime in the spring.

"When you have 550,000 people that use this park, the place where we start is that we all care about it, but what we also have diverse perspectives in terms of what the vision of the park is," said Sullivan.

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