By Ryan Gueningsman
MONTROSE, MN More than 75 people with an interest in a proposed regional park north of Montrose attended a meeting Thursday night at the Montrose Community Center to provide input on the project.
The proposed regional park, which would be located west of Wright County Road 12 and just north of Aspen Lane, would be built in phases on 24 acres of land obtained by a combination of tax forfeiture and park dedication, according to Montrose City Engineer Justin Kannas of Bolton & Menk.
The City of Montrose received 5 acres for park land with the Rolling Meadows development. Taxes were not paid on an additional 19 acres of land originally owned by the developer, and the city received the property in 2012 via forfeiture. Now, the property must be used for a public purpose.
Approximately $70,000 in city assessments were levied against the 19 acres, though the city never collected these assessments, according to Kannas.
An idea for a large, regional park has been bounced around and looked at by city staff and the Montrose City Council. Development of such a park would occur over the next 10 to 20 years due to financial constraints, Kannas explained.
The city staff and council felt it was important to develop a concept plan for such a park. Bolton & Menk prepared three conceptual plans which, through meetings with the parks commission and city council, were narrowed to the concept presented Thursday night.
“Developing this concept plan goes a long way for any grant opportunities,” Kannas said. “The ones that are successful have a very clear-cut plan laid out.”
A survey was also sent to Montrose residents, with results being reviewed Thursday night as part of the presentation. Survey results ranked a picnic shelter with restrooms as the number one “wish list” item for something at a regional park. Other responses included outdoor pool, playground, splash pad, natural area (preserve), library, basketball court, and a hockey rink/warming house. There were 134 responses to the survey.
“It’s small in relation to the entire population (of the city), but that’s what we got,” Kannas said.
He added the current city council isn’t planning to bond for any regional park improvements at this time, but said, down the road, bonding may become necessary if a larger-scale building project would be considered.
“There would be no net tax increase as a result of regional park development at this time,” Kannas said. “The current city council is planning to develop the park incrementally as funds are available.”
The city has $120,000 budgeted for regional park development in 2014, it was noted.
Several residents spoke, asking questions about the proposal, or expressing concerns or appreciation for the work done on the concept to this point.
Kannas said next steps will include continuing to research and apply for grants to assist with further funding of the effort, and also completing wetland delineation, soil borings, a topographical survey, and a grading plan for the site. Grading may begin on the site in late summer/fall of this year.
Wright County Commissioner Charlie Borrell said the city may want to check with the National Guard as sometimes it takes on summer projects of this nature.
Kannas said it is anticipated the construction of the first park amenity or field would be done in 2015.
Some amenities proposed for the park include soccer/football fields, a fenced dog park, possible outdoor hockey rink, tennis courts, rain gardens, basketball courts, a regional playground, baseball and softball fields, and other features.
The park was described as “a focal point of the city. Something Montrose is really known for.”