Updated: Nov 4
Nearly two dozen dignitaries and community members turned out on a blustery October 6 to celebrate installation of “Saputo Station” signs on the eponymous rest stop at Bellaire Beach Park along the South Shore stretch of the Lake Links Trail.
Those braving northerly wind gusts off the lake and construction vehicles working on South Shore Boulevard included local officials; representatives from Saputo, Inc., which donated funds to construct the rest stop through its Legacy Program; rest stop architect Bryan Gatzlaff; members of the Rotary Club of White Bear, which provided labor to erect the station; Modernistic Sign from Stillwater; and members of the Lake Links Association.
A shelter along a bicycle trail was particularly appropriate, according to Chris Harper, plant manager of Saputo’s White Bear Lake facility. Chris said the Saputo family started the global dairy company in 1954 with only $500 for equipment and a bicycle for deliveries.
Association co-founder and co-chair Mike Brooks related the history of the project. It all began with a vision by co-founder Steve Wolgamot, a history buff who proposed to commemorate the area’s train heritage with a trailside facility that echoed the look of an old-time railroad station that once graced the area.
“Sadly, Steve didn’t live to see this day,” Brooks said. “We’re glad to be able to honor him by carrying the vision forward.”
Further plans for the site include installation of a bicycle repair station made possible by donations in memory of Efrain Santiago, an omnipresent personality in the area’s hospitality industry who passed away in 2019.
When the South Shore separated trail opens next spring, the Lake Links nonmotorized route around White Bear Lake will be about 80% complete. Plans for stretches along Highway 96 and Highway 244 on the north side of the lake are still being discussed by units of government as a January 1, 2024, deadline for spending the state funds earmarked for the project looms.
“This was a great day for the Lake Links Trail,” said vice-chair John Carr. “We’re so grateful to ‘hometown hero’ Saputo for making this possible, and we look forward to seeing this shelter used by trail lovers of all ages.”