By Gabe Licht
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, MN Plans for a Wright County park in Franklin Township moved one step closer to reality March 2, as the township board voted 3-0 in favor of a resolution to work with the county to purchase property from the Delano Sportsmen’s Club for the park.
Prior to the meeting, the township’s park committee had met with Wright County Parks Director Marc Mattice and voted 3-1, with Wally Johnson dissenting, to recommend the purchase.
“The thing Marc stressed is it’s Wright County’s money and what we’re attempting to do is get some of that money and use it in Franklin Township,” Supervisor DeWayne Bauman said. “He said he’s not sure how well it will go, just based on the fact that they might be setting a precedent because it’s not normal that the township goes seeking that money. Normally, the county comes seeking the land.”
Bauman said township officials would be meeting with officials from Wright County Planning and Zoning March 9, after which point the issue could go on to the Wright County Board.
He shared that Tom Vetch, from the Three Rivers Park District, supports the township’s plans and noted that a new canoe launch at the proposed park would serve the area better than the existing canoe launch in the area, that will likely be closed soon.
Johnson expressed some concerns about the park proposal.
He referenced a quote from Delano Sportsmen’s Club representative Joe Kittok that said, “We’d like to write our contract so we’d have control that any complaints about sportsmen’s club activities would be considered at less than 100 percent.”
“I found that very troubling because I know the Minnesota Shooting Range Protection Act, from back in 2005, has a whole set of shooting range requirement standards that have to be met by all shooting ranges in the state of Minnesota,” Johnson said. “. . . I had a meeting with two Wright County attorneys about this issue and they assured me that putting language into a contract like that would never be accepted by the county or the state.”
Kittok said he was referring to the club’s farming operation and the hunting of ducks and pheasants in the area.
“People using the park would be asked to be cooperative with our farming operation,” Kittok said. “Wally read that as meaning our gun club operation, but that’s 1,200 feet away on the other side of a berm.”
When Johnson asked about the park being identified as a township park and expressed concerns about tens of thousands of dollars in township funds paying for the development of the site, Bauman clarified it will be written up as a Wright County park.
“I don’t see thousands of dollars of infrastructure,” resident John Tackaberry said. “It’s simple and functional . . . I think it’s phenomenal. I think you guys have done a great job.”
Resident Darin Orr said the park would provide a buffer between the city of Delano and the township.
Bauman asked Kittok about the possibility of extending the property line to the north, which would expand the parcel from 12 acres to 15 or 16 acres and include a quiet area of the river for fishing.
“We just don’t know what kind of money we’re dealing with yet,” Kittok said.
Farmington Avenue reconstruction
Franklin Township has been discussing reconstructing a portion of Farmington Avenue, and moved forward with plans to secure funding from the State Bank of Delano for the project.
Deputy Clerk Stephanie Russek said the bank had quoted an interest rate of 1.95 percent plus an administrative fee of $1,500 to $2,500, compared to a quote of 1.75 percent interest plus a 1 percent origination fee from United Banker’s Bank in Long Lake. The township will have five years to repay the bond.
Bauman noted that Rockford Township would like its portion of the road to be included in the project.
“They want to do that at the same time,” Bauman said. “We need to include that in the estimates and Rockford Township would pay for their portion.”
Supervisor Mike Barfknecht said the road should last 20 to 25 years once the long-term solution is completed.
“There’s no patching, there’s no overlaying, the road is junk, it has run its course,” Barfknecht said. “We’ve tried every option not to pay for this road.
“Some people in the township think the taxpayers that paid for that road once should pay for it again,” Barfknecht continued. “I don’t believe it. Everyone in the township will be paying for that road because everyone uses it.”
When considering whether to seek $500,000 or $750,000, Russek noted the interest rate would be the same.
“We’re going to want $750,000 regardless,” Barfknecht said.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• discussed a potential long-term recycling contract with Randy’s Environmental Services, which has picked up routes previously covered by Wright Recycling. Representatives from Randy’s said they would honor the current contract price for a year while upgrading the township to one-sort recycling with carts at each residence if the township signed a 10-year contract. Russek said she would contact the township attorney to determine if the township could negotiate with Randy’s or if requesting bids or proposals would be required. In the meantime, the board passed a motion to solicit pricing from recycling providers.
• was introduced to new Montrose Fire Chief Kevin Triplett, who replaced Jason Chaffins in the position Jan. 1. He works overnight as a patrol deputy with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office and encouraged the board to email him with any questions going forward.
• accepted a bid of 85.9 cents per gallon for magnesium chloride used for dust control from Envirotech. Another bid from Quality Propane came in at 90 cents per gallon and supervisors estimated the annual cost difference to be about $4,100.
• approved a resolution to join the Highway 12 Safety Coalition. It was noted one of the most dangerous portions of Highway 12 is in Franklin Township. Tackaberry volunteered to represent the township if needed.