The Blaine City Council April 18 unanimously approved $93,100 of open space and trail projects for 2013.
According to Jim Hafner, stormwater manager for the city of Blaine, the fund balance for the open space fund was just under $400,000 at the end of 2012. Hafner said 35 percent of park dedication fees paid by residential developers goes into the open space fund.
The largest potential project by far is a bike/pedestrian path on Old Radisson Road, just west of Radisson Road, from Main Street to the point it dead-ends in a cul-de-sac south of Cloud Drive.
This project for now is estimated to cost $62,000. It restripes Old Radission Road to add the path, but there is a portion on the north end where the trail has to cross land to get from the existing Radisson Road trail to this new one. The city needs to acquire easements from one homeowner and Anoka County to make this trail a reality, according to Hafner.
With this project complete, people in this area could go as far north as Bunker Lake Boulevard and as far south as 85th Avenue using other existing trails or paths, according to Dottie McKinley, chairperson of the city’s natural resources conservation board.
Most of the remaining $31,100 in slated projects is for management of city open space areas and parks, including Hidden Ponds, Kane Meadows, Laddie Lake and Oak Savannah.
Siberian elms are crowding the shoreline of the south pond at Hidden Ponds Park where the city recently put in a trail. The trees will be cut down and chipped on-site to add another layer to the existing soft, natural trails that also goes through the woods. This project alone could cost $10,000.
The city has already been working on removing black locust from one area of Laddie Lake Park, but the city needs to do more treatments to make sure it does not come back. Buckthorn removal will be needed in another area of the park more recently purchased.
Oak Savannah Park also needs some follow-up buckthorn removal.
Hafner said state statute allows cities to use open space accounts to manage invasive plant species. Once it gets to the point where the invasive species is not as prevalent, the city would have to use general fund dollars paid by taxpayers to maintain these properties.
At this point, however, the city can use park dedication fee revenue paid by residential developers. Hafner noted that he and the contractor working on Hidden Ponds Park, for instance, agree that prairie management work including buckthorn removal will need to be paid by the general fund after this year.
McKinley said it is important for residents to know that the city’s open space program goes well beyond buying vacant land and letting it sit. The goal is to preserve it with native species being the dominant plant life and to let the public enjoy the land it bought through a previous referendum.
To add to this enjoyment, the budget includes benches, kiosks and informational boxes.
Hafner said they will only start out with a few informational boxes filled with flyers about the city’s open space preservation program to see how successful this is. A local Boy Scout’s Eagle Scout project is to put a kiosk at East Lake Park and Pioneer Park, Hafner added.
Blaine has been working with Critical Connections and Prairie Restorations on these management projects, but McKinley would like to encourage neighborhoods to adopt a park to keep their areas beautiful. To find out more, call 763-785-6164.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org