By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake’s downtown area and Lions Park will look a little prettier, and be more user-friendly, later this summer as the result of the city council approving two HL Thrive projects at Tuesday’s meeting.
After a year’s worth of strategizing and planning, the HL Thrive quality of life group is ready to make improvements at Lions Park this summer, and begin an adopt-a-pot program for downtown.
The projects will add beauty to the city, and make it more pleasant to walk through town and enjoy recreation at the lake, according to HL Thrive quality of life member Cindy Zitzloff.
“This will also add momentum for HL Thrive we want people to see things are moving forward,” Zitzloff added about the upcoming projects.
Lions Park improvements would not only beautify the park, but also address drainage issues which cause the beach to wash away and retaining wall to crumble.
The Wright Soil and Water Conservation District is leading the project to make sure HL Thrive and the city are following all regulations regarding shoreline improvements.
A grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will assist in financing the project, which includes anchoring trees to the shoreline and a 4,000-square-foot buffer of native plants.
Along with the raingarden already in place, the native plant buffer will help to slow stormwater runoff from the parking lot, preventing some of the erosion that has been taking place at the beach and retaining wall, according to City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller.
Trees and brush have already been removed from the shoreline with assistance from the Howard Lake Public Works Departments and sentence-to-serve work crews.
Remaining trees will be anchored to the shoreline, creating good habitat for the fish in the lake.
A split rail fence will be installed around the native buffer for aesthetics and to protect the plants, and a walking path to the beach will be created through the native plant buffer.
Improvements to the beach will include a washed sand blanket 6 inches deep, and the retaining wall will be repaired.
Edging and mulch will be added around trees and the restroom, and hostas or something similar will be planted around the restroom. An engraved boulder surrounded by plants will also be installed.
Dead trees will be removed from the boulevard between Wright County Road 7 and the parking lot, and salt-resistant bushes will be planted.
The city agreed to fund the project up to $2,696, which will come from the shoreline preservation fund. However, volunteer work and in-kind donations will reduce the amount of funding needed from the city.
HL Thrive is providing $2,000 in funding to cover items for which the DNR grant cannot be used.
To kick off the adopt-a-pot program, 12 rectangular and two round concrete planters will be purchased for placement along US Highway 12 and Eighth Avenue.
The council approved using $6,000 from the city’s downtown enhancement fund, and $2,000 will be contributed from HL Thrive.
In-kind donations for the project will come from volunteers planting the flowers and maintaining the beds, and city staff watering the planters daily.
Local businesses will be approached to adopt-a-pot by contributing money for the project, which will be set aside to be used for maintenance and purchasing more planters in the future to extend the program throughout Howard Lake.
Businesses that donate will be recognized with plaques on the pots.
The natural flow of traffic for pedestrians along Highway 12 will be to walk closer to the buildings after the rectangular planters are placed adjacent to the streetlights, noted Haggenmiller.
In the winter, the planters will be removed and stored to allow for snow removal and prevent damage.
The council also approved applying for a DNR grant through the community roadside landscaping partnership program to assist in paying for plants for the HL Thrive projects.