County receives $1.281 million in parks funds

Anoka County has received $1,281,000 in state regional park and trail legacy funds for seven projects in its regional parks.

The Anoka County Board, on the recommendation of its Parks and Recreation Committee, has approved a grant agreement with the Metropolitan Council for the funds.

This money comes from the state sales tax increase that was passed by Minnesota voters in 2008 when they approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state Constitution.

The dollars set aside for regional parks and trails are distributed by the Metropolitan Council via a formula established by the Minnesota Legislature, according to John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director.

The county got its first appropriation in 2009 and the dollar amount has been about the same each year, VonDeLinde said.

Under the agreement with the Metropolitan Council, the money has to be spent by June 30, 2015.

But in some cases the projects are already under way or are about to start, while others will be completed in 2013, VonDeLinde said.

Projects to be funded by the grant include:

• Bunker Hills Regional Park – some $230,000 for the design and replacement of the mechanical filtration system for the wave pool.

• Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park – some $125,000 to complete design and reconstruct the park road, parking lots and trails as well as construct trails and fishing access.

• Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve – about $250,000 to complete the reconstruction of campground roadways, utility improvements and camp sites.

• Lake George Regional Park, some $100,000 to complete redevelopment of the beach wall.

• Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve, approximately $216,000 to continue day camp/Heritage Lab redevelopment.

• Rice Creek West Regional Trail/Manomin Park, about $160,000 to design and reconstruct the entrance drive, parking lot and sidewalks at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.

• Mississippi River Regional Trail from Anoka County Riverfront Regional Park to 37th Avenue in Columbia Heights, which is the border with Minneapolis, about $200,000 to design and reconstruct a bituminous trail.

According to VonDeLinde, the filtration system at the Bunker Beach Water Park wave pool is needed because it failed this past summer, resulting in the wave pool being closed for a week in early August.

While the rest of the water park remained open while the filtration system was fixed, discounts were offered to people coming to the water park, VonDeLinde said.

“This is the original filtration system and it is 25 years old,” he said.

The work will be completed in time for the wave pool to open with the water park in the spring of 2013, VonDeLinde said.

The legacy funds for the work at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, which has an estimated cost of $1.4 million, will supplement previously approved $1.263 million in state and regional bonding dollars to reconstruct the roadway, parking lots and trails within the park and well as to complete what is now a partial trail round Cenaiko Lake, according to VonDeLinde said.

The entrance to the park and the parking lot next to the Visitor Center were reconstructed a couple of years ago, VonDeLinde said.

This project will take care of the rest of the park road and parking lots, except for the parking lot at the performance pavilion which is relatively new, he said.

The work will be done next spring, VonDeLinde said.

The grant for the campground work at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve also supplements earlier legacy grant funding and a contract for that project was awarded by the county board last week, he said.

Grant money for Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve also includes dollars to upgrade the area of the park used by the YMCA day camp and the children’s Heritage Lab program.

This will include building shelters for the various stations of the Heritage Lab program and they will also be used by the day camp.

The timetable for this project is not certain at this point because some money allocated for this work might have to be shifted to other projects that come in over budget, like the Rice Creek campground project did, according to VonDeLinde.

Funds can be reallocated among projects without amending the grant, VonDeLinde said.

However, the $225,000 beach wall redevelopment at Lake George Regional Park has already started after money was shifted from a project at Locke Park, which came in under budget, he said.

The entrance drive, parking lot and sidewalks at Banfill-Locke need work, but plans also call for a small plaza to be built at the trail entrance, possibly with a sculpture, VonDeLinde said.

The parking lot on the other side of the trail over Rice Creek at Manomin Park won’t be part of the project because it is in good shape, he said.

This project will be constructed next spring, so will replacement of a bituminous trail on the Mississippi River Regional Trail that links the St. Anthony Park trail system in Minneapolis to Anoka County Riverfront Regional Park in Fridley, according to VonDeLinde said.

The trail was built in 1995, but has been damaged by tree roots by the Minneapolis Waterworks plant, he said.

The county will be looking at the potential for combining the three projects that involve bituminous reconstruction of roads, parking lots and trails – Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts and Mississippi River Regional Trail – as a way of saving some money, according to VonDeLinde.

“These are some of our highest priority needs that are scattered through the county,” said Anoka County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]