A proposal to be part of a Clean Cities National Parks initiative to bring electric vehicle charging stations to Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park has been shelved by Anoka County.
Last month the Anoka County Parks and Recreation Committee authorized an application to be made for the county to be an implementation site for two electric vehicle charging stations.
It would be have been funded by a grant, while the committee added a caveat that a fee system had to be put in place to cover operations and maintenance costs.
The county had been approached by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the National Park Service to gauge its interest in being an implementation site for a grant proposal by the American Lung Association and the National Park Service to the Clean Cities National Parks initiative.
But at it last meeting May 3, the committee rescinded its action on the recommendation of department staff.
According to a staff report to the committee, the application is not warranted after further consideration in the context of long-term maintenance and operations costs and concerns that have been expressed by the public and Anoka County Board members regarding the grant program and its intended uses.
However, the committee’s action to rescind its previous action produced a discussion at the May 8 county board meeting even though it was listed as an information item on the committee report to the board.
County Commissioner Dan Erhart sparked the discussion.
In his view, the county should have moved forward with the project, showing leadership in helping to promote alternative fuels for vehicles, given the country’s dependence on oil, Erhart said.
“This would be a small step,” he said.
And Erhart said it would have been a profit center.
While the county was planning to charge $1 every time a station was used to charge an electric vehicle, his research showed that the cost to the county would be only 48 cents, according to Erhart.
But Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah said that there are privately owned charging stations in the county and the county would be setting up in competition with them.
County Commissioner Andy Westerberg, who chairs the board’s Public Works Committee, is the county’s representative on the Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Advisory Board.
In a recent vote to support the program in the metro area, which passed 7-6, Westerberg said he voted no because there are so many variables.
“The dollars would be better spent in support of mass transit, like buses, in population centers,” he said.
Moreover, the electric charging stations that are open in the county, one at Kwik Trip in Coon Rapids and the other at Goodwill in Blaine, do no charge a fee for electric vehicle charging.
According to Westerberg, he has never seen anyone use the charging station at Goodwill and all it does is take up parking spaces.
In deciding not to move forward with the project, County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said the committee felt that the proposal was “ahead of its time.”
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]