by Pam Recksiedler-Barnard
The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 23rd annual Right-of-Way Conference provided the perfect fall getaway to mingle with colleagues in the Right-of-Way profession. But it wasn’t all recreation and relaxation as attendees learned about current or changing rules and laws in the field along with other topics and issues affecting ROW practitioners. Although Cragun’s Resort is nestled in the Brainerd Lakes area, there were also opportunities for myriad recreational activities including fishing, hiking and golf.
In addition to presentations about the many areas we deal with on a daily basis, speakers provided education and updates on current events such as construction of the new Viking Stadium and other development in downtown east Minneapolis, working with tribal leadership and tribal lands, the scourge of methamphetamine and marijuana, along with the importance of wetland and shoreline buffers. Additional classes focused on case studies for relocation, railroad permitting, case law and legislative updates.
As this was my 20th trip to the MnDOT ROW Conference, I pondered “when did I get so old?!!” Each year’s workshop builds from the previous year and presents viable topics that affect our work and the issues we deal with on the job. The ranks of instructors include police officers, engineers, attorneys, Right-of-Way professionals, college professors, environmentalists and assorted MnDOT staff. Each has expertise they share during the conference. As attendees, we get to choose which topics have the most interest and applicability. This year’s slate of 29 sessions included four that were required at the beginning and end of the conference. Upon completion of the conference, attendees earned continuing education credits to maintain professional licenses in appraisal, real estate and the legal professions.
Each year’s activities include a social gathering sponsored by one of the vendor’s at their cabin or suite or at the on-site bar. Despite a very destructive storm this past summer in the Brainerd/Baxter area that left tangled and downed trees in the area, our units located on the beach provided an optimal view of the area’s natural beauty. The recreational fires, which were well stoked the two nights we were there, were an excellent way to become acquainted with other attendees and vendor’s staff.
While only Right-of-Way staff generally attend these conferences, I strongly recommend that anyone attend this conference if the opportunity arises.