Ramsey approves lower park, trail fees for big development

Staff Writer
I cover the cities of Andover, Blaine and Ramsey. I have worked at ABC Newspapers since August 2007.

The Ramsey City Council May 23 agreed that Capstone Homes should be able to pay less park and trail dedication fees for an approximately 300-home development since the housing developer will be putting in its own parks.

This 300-home development, which will include a mix of single-family homes and townhomes, will be phased over multiple years. But based on the current park and trail dedication rates, Capstone faced a $1.1 million charge had the council not approved a reduction.

Mark Riverblood, parks director, suggested crediting Capstone Homes up to $275,300 since one of the parks would be located along a trail that would connect with the city’s trail system outside this massive development that will be located east of The Links at Northfork Golf Course and south of the Ramsey’s own Lake Itasca Park.

The council and the Ramsey Parks Commission discussed this development, which is being called Riverstone, at a joint May 9 workshop. Mostly, members of the council and commission gave their opinions on whether Ramsey should continue to focus on putting future park dedication dollars from developers into large community parks or whether it should allow more smaller neighborhood parks.

While Mayor Sarah Strommen noted there are varying points of view on that question, the consensus was that Riverstone should have some neighborhood parks that could be used by anyone else in the community who happens to be coming through and that Capstone should get some credit for the additional investment.

“As a group we were not ready to discuss a change to the (park dedication) policy, but what we thought we could discuss was an interim exception to the policy based on the unique circumstances we have here,” Strommen said.

Capstone Homes estimated it would cost just over $650,000 to develop this park as well as the 1-mile trail that would run through the development. The Ramsey home builder originally requested park dedication credit of about $483,000.

In recognition of the Pearson family who were long-time owners of this land on the north side of Highway 10, Capstone is going to name Riverstone’s signature park Pearson Park.

Pearson Park will have three different ponds, a trail, a water fountain that would have also have a lower spout for dogs and a “nature based” playground that Riverblood said would include equipment that is more interactive than the standard playground.

Steve Bohna, of Capstone Homes, said a park like this is necessary considering that almost 300 homes will be developed within the 90-acre property. There will also be another smaller park within the development beyond Pearson Park.

“We’re trying to provide a place for the kids to run and play so they don’t have to go a quarter-mile away or a half-mile away to the nearest park,” he said.

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