Anoka City Council June 19 approved the preliminary plat for Bob Ehlen Park. This move is a necessary step in making adjacent green space a permanent city park.
Earlier this year, the city included four lots adjacent to Bob Ehlen Park in its development opportunities booklet. The lots were deeded to the city more than 40 years ago. While there were no deed restrictions in place, the property was intended for public use.
When a developer expressed interest in building single-family homes on the lots, there was strong pushback from people who live nearby.
“March 1 we held a neighborhood meeting that resulted with a significant turnout from the neighborhood,” Deputy Development Director Doug Borglund said.
The nearly 70 residents in attendance were unanimous in their concerns.
“They certainly voiced their opinion of wanting to preserve these four parcels as park, permanently,” Borglund said.
The platting process will make the land, informally used as green space, permanent park.
“This is a prime example of how the neighborhood got involved and wanted to see something happen that they felt very, very passionate about,” said Council Member Brian Wesp. “I think the neighborhood meeting we had really made that point evident for me.”
The residents’ request went through Anoka’s Park Board and Planning Commission. The next step will be a permanent plat.
Fremont Street resident Bob Maurer thanked the Park Board and Planning Commission for its handling of the council’s direction and the neighborhood’s wishes.
“The process is working,” Maurer said. “I’m looking forward to making this permanent.”
It has been an ongoing priority for the Anoka City Council to get more public properties back on the tax roll.
“In this case, this neighborhood was very concerned and we listened,” Council Member Mark Freeburg said.
For this instance, he ranked the residents’ concerns higher than the council’s goals.
“It isn’t our city and our land, it’s just our job to do what we do … to look at properties,” Freeburg said.