Blaine council approves five-year budget for parks projects

The Blaine City Council May 2 approved the projected list of parks projects for the years 2013 through 2017.

Aquatore Park Field No. 1 still needs to be relocated due to the new curling facility at Fogerty Arena. The field has yet to be relocated because soil borings done last year showed eight to 12 feet of peat in the proposed outfield area. The field orientation was flipped so home plate would face west, the Blaine Park Board learned last summer from then Parks and Recreation Director Jim Kappelhoff.

Nate Monahan, one of the parks and recreation supervisors filling in for the now retired Kappelhoff, told the council May 2 that wetland mitigation will be determined soon and then bids could be sought for the new lighted ball field.

This project is slated to cost $350,000.

Work will begin this year on the Lexington Athletic Complex, which ultimately could include a park building that resembles the nearby Finn Farm barn, a playground with a barnyard theme, two lighted baseball/softball fields, four multi-use fields for soccer, lacrosse and football of which two would be lit, three lighted tennis courts and a full basketball court.

The 38.6-acre Lexington Athletic Complex at the corner of 120th and Lexington avenues is on property once part of the Finn Farm. Paxmar Development purchased 180 acres east of Lexington Avenue and south of Main Street in 2011. The city of Blaine subsequently paid $800,000 up-front and will credit Paxmar $1.4 million in park dedication fees as it develops homes nearby. So essentially Blaine is paying $2.2 million for this 38 acres.

The park itself could cost $3.85 million, but $3 million of that is slated for 2014. Half-a-million dollars is the budgeted 2013 amount in the park’s capital improvement plan.

Constructing Legacy Creek Park east of Harpers Street and north of 125th Avenue ($125,000) to include a half basketball court, shelter, playground and landscaping; replacing tennis and basketball courts at Aurelia Park ($45,000); and security lighting ($6,000) are the other 2013 projects.

All 2013 expenditures are slated to be $1,026,000. Some other notable projects beyond 2014 are getting new parking lots for Lakeside Commons Park and constructing a park building and lighted hockey rinks at the Jim Peterson Athletic Complex.

Blaine receives park dedication fee revenue from residential, commercial and industrial developers to help pay for these projects, but it is also going to be transferring $2,335,000 from a combination of funds such as the capital improvement fund to make sure there is enough revenue to pay for expenditures over the next couple of years, namely the Lexington Athletic Complex.

Some of the money does not need to be repaid by the parks capital improvement fund because some of it is being used for eligible expenses such as adding a right turn lane into the Lexington Athletic Complex or paying for trails and sewer and water utility costs. About $1 million of this $2.3 million is being borrowed from the city’s water utility fund or capital improvement fund and will need to be repaid. The city is currently budgeting to begin paying this back in 2015.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]