By Gabe Licht
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, MN Franklin Township moved one step closer to establishing a park during its Feb. 2 board meeting, with the presentation of a report on 12 acres of land owned by the Delano Sportsmen’s Club.
Graham Sones and Bob Gunderson, of SGA Group, shared a 25-page report of their findings about the property.
“You can draw your own opinions and understand it’s a wonderful activity to turn agricultural land into a park,” Sones said. “It’s not as difficult as working with undeveloped land.”
Sones and Gunderson considered environmental, visual, and potential recreational aspects of the site, the buffer around the site and the area at large.
They included a park-development concept featuring passive uses, which would be supported by picnic areas, restrooms, a canoe launch, and walking paths.
In studying the property, they took a look at the historical context of the site, including its assets and potential issues.
“A few context issues for the 12-acre site should be considered as follows: history of sand borrow/mining, history of flooding, visual proximity to power transmission, physical proximity to the river shore/edge,” the report detailed. “A number of context-related assets also exist as such: physical proximity to major collector roads, visual proximity to the river, history of agriculture, physical separation from critical wildlife habitat, opportunities for floodplain enhancement.”
Sones noted the soils in the area are “fairly good,” despite wind erosion risks, and will support trees and ground cover. As for the current vegetation, it is primarily oak, basswood, and maple, with invasive species such as prickly ash and buckthorn.
“There’s not a lot of diversity in terms of natives, but it does possess good qualities around the edges for natives,” Sones said.
The report suggested planting species that can tolerate water inundation, full sun, and a lack of maintenance.
It also points to attributes of the site, such as some of the views.
“The cut bank slope of the South Fork of the Crow River stands out as very distinctive and interesting,” according to the report. “. . . This site offers enough variety of different views and view sheds that will make it attractive to people seeking an experience outside of their daily routine.”
Getting to those views currently requires using an entrance off Wright County Highway 17 or Farmington Avenue.
The Wright County Highway 17 entrance is on a curve near the Delano Sportsmen’s Club and the Farmington Avenue entrance has obstructed views due to a nearby bridge.
“The two physical entrance locations, though marginal, are the only way to currently enter the site, so the approach and arrival planning will become very important as a way to mitigate the marginal locations,” the report said.
Sones said the Wright County highway department will need to be involved in determining the best entrance and exit options for the site.
Though not every member of the township’s park committee was able to attend the meeting Supervisor Dewayne Bauman and Delano Sportsmen’s Club representative Joe Kittok, who serve on the committee, shared their perspectives.
“I think this is a very nice plan,” Kittok said.
He said the biggest concern for the Delano Sportsmen’s Club was that a park could potentially interfere with future developments, such as a skeet or rifle range, but Kittok does not believe that will be the case.
“We think you’d be a good neighbor,” he 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. We do take complaints seriously, though. We’ve built a sound wall and sheds with sound material in them to keep the noise down. Every time we get a call, I try to answer it and explain what we’re doing and why.”
Bauman said the park committee will meet with Wright County Parks Administrator Marc Mattice to discuss the report more and decide how to move forward.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• discussed a construction project on Farmington Avenue. Township staff will research if local banks can issue a certificate of indebtedness to pay for the project, rather than bonding for the funds.
• reviewed a conditional use permit for Michael and Katie Dickerman of Woodland Hills Winery and offered support for the Dickermans to pursue a liquor license to sell Minnesota-made craft beer at the site.
• approved soliciting 2015 dust control sealed bids.
• appointed election judges for the March 10 township election.
• verified the 2014 record of maintenance vacation and PTO.
• accepted a bid from the Delano Herald Journal to be the official legal publication of Franklin Township.
• accepted a bid from Herald Journal publishing to print the 2015 recycling calendar. No other bids were received.