By Gabe Licht
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, MN On the quest for a new park in their township, Franklin Township residents learned of a hurdle in their way.
“We have submitted to the Park Commission of Wright County our idea. They said no,” township park committee member Bill McMullen said during the Franklin Township annual meeting March 10.
“They don’t want to accept that as a Wright County park because it isn’t big enough,” McMullen explained about the 12-plus acres owned by the Delano Sportsmen’s Club that sits near Wright County Road 17 and Farmington Avenue. “They want 40 acres or bigger. They also said most commissioners are not interested in adding new Wright County parks in the system.”
Despite that decision, the commission did unanimously agree to ask the Wright County Board of Commissioners to release $114,000 in park-development funds to the township to establish a park independent from the county system.
“It would still have to follow the parameters of being for acquisition of parkland and for improvements,” McMullen said of the money collected from developers over the past 10 to 12 years. “It cannot be for daily management or anything like that.”
If the county approves the funds to be used to establish a township park, McMullen believes ongoing maintenance costs for the park would be minimal.
“We think there are a lot of opportunities for partnerships,” McMullen said. “We believe the sportsmen’s club is interested in partnering with us, kind of like an Adopt-A-Highway program . . . We also have two full-time staff here. There are downtimes when they’re not working full speed. This would give them another thing for their list.”
McMullen acknowledged that if a park is established at the site there will be times when it will be unusable due to high water, but noted that is not uncommon for similar parks throughout the area. Structures such as a covered shelter and concrete structure bathroom would be located on the high ground and standing water should not harm a gravel parking area, McMullen said.
Supervisor DeWayne Bauman said the land would need to go through the appraisal process.
The county board is expected to discuss the issue at its Tuesday, March 17, meeting, McMullen said.
The Franklin Township Board has requested bids for the Farmington Avenue project.
Supervisor Mike Barfknecht explained the magnitude of the project.
“We’ll be milling it back up, turning it back to gravel, grading it out, pulling shoulders up, repaving it, pulling the shoulders back in, and replacing all the culverts,” Barfknecht said. “They weren’t replaced when the road was done originally and they’re all worn out.”
Initially, the township was planning to take out a five-year, $750,000 certificate of indebtedness to pay for the project, but Barfknecht said that likely would not be enough.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to do that after the call I got from the engineer,” Barfknecht said. “He said it will be $1.5 million, minimum.”
Clerk Denise Olson noted the interest rates may be higher than the quoted rate of 1.95 percent on a larger amount.
She said the township currently has $134,000 set aside for the project.
“It’s not going to be cheap no matter what we do,” Barfknecht said. “It doesn’t pay to get too excited until we get the right numbers.”
The road was initially paved in 1991.
Residents voted to continue the annual meeting to 6:15 p.m. Monday, May 4, to approve the budget after the bids for the Farmington Avenue project are opened.
Odds and ends
In other business, residents:
• learned the results of the Franklin Township Board election. Supervisor John Czanstkowski, Sr. was re-elected with 82 votes. Darin Orr received 33 votes. There were no write-in votes or blank ballots cast.
• approved $7,000 for the Delano Senior Center, which is slightly more than a 3 percent increase from the previous year. About 12 percent of individuals who have used the center in 2015 have been from Franklin Township.
• discussed recycling in the township. The board has put out requests for proposals to Randy’s Environmental Services, which is currently covering the township’s routes that were previously covered by Wright Recycling, and Waste Management. It was noted that the township will have the option to accept a local proposal from Wright Recycling, even if it is slightly more expensive than Waste Management’s proposal.
• recognized resident June Sutton, present at the meeting, who will turn 100 June 14.