County sets public hearing on land transfer plan

The Anoka County Board has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m., at the Anoka County Government Center on the planned transfer by the county of property at Lions Coon Creek Park to the city of Coon Rapids.

Lions Coon Creek Park on Hanson Boulevard is a city park but two parcels which make up the bulk of the park acreage are owned by Anoka County and leased to the city.

The first step in the transfer process took place last month when the Coon Rapids City Council approved a resolution giving its blessing to the land transfer and an associated grant agreement.

Following the public hearing Aug. 27, the county board will be asked to approve a resolution approving the transfer of the parcels as well as an amendment to the grant agreement with the state of Minnesota and the city to remove the county from sponsorship of the grant involving the park, according to John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director.

This is not simply a land transfer between the county and the city because the National Park Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are also involved, hence the grant agreement.

According to Tim Himmer, city public works director, the city has been leasing the parcels from the county since the park on Hanson Boulevard was built in 1988.

There has been no charge for the lease, nor is the county charging the city for the land transfer, Himmer said.

The Anoka County Board’s Parks and Recreation Committee has approved the land transfer in concept, but in order to move the process forward, the council had to take action, he said.

The original 25-year lease the city had with the city was due to expire a few months ago, so the county renewed the lease while the transfer process took place, according to VonDeLinde said.

The transfer process with the DNR will take some months so will the federal approval, VonDeLinde said.

Anoka County received federal Land and Water Conservation funds from the state to purchase and preserve the land for public park purposes, he said.

Following the city and county actions, three more steps have to occur before the transfer can be completed, according to Himmer.

• The National Park Service must approve the land transfer.

• A grant agreement must be processed between the National Park Service and the state DNR allowing the state to transfer the grant responsibilities to the city.

• A three-way grant amendment must be executed by the city, county and the state.

With the resolution in hand from the city and approval of the grant transfer by the county board, the county will submit a letter to the state requesting the transfer, at which time the DNR can process the amendment between the National Park Service and the state to transfer the grant responsibilities to the city.

Once the National Park Service signs off, the state will prepare a grant amendment for the county, city and state to sign, Himmer wrote in a report to the council.

Lions Coon Creek Park, which totals 15 acres, has the city’s largest play structure and is known for its trails and access to the Sand Creek and Coon Creek Trail systems.

The park features three picnic shelters available for rent, two softball fields, basketball courts, a bocce ball court, volleyball court and a memorial garden.