By Barbie Porter
The Wannigan Regional Park Committee is fine-tuning its master plan with the graciousness from Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission.
During the committee meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 26, National Park Service Outdoor Recreational Planner Holly Larson said a representative from the regional park commission offered to review the plan and provide feedback and tips to make the plan more appealing to those designating funds.
Larson said once feedback is received, changes can be made to the plan and then the application for funding can be submitted.
Once the master plan is reviewed, the project would receive a rating. The higher the rating the more likely the project would be to receiving integral funding for the project to proceed.
The concept of the park originated in July 2017 when 156 acres was put up for sale north of town and just past city limits. The land offered several access points to the Otter Tail River, including a covered bridge and points of interest for history buffs. At that time the land was being sold for $600,000 by Mark Kelly.
A public meeting was held, but the funds were not secured and the landowner sold a few parcels in an auction before selling the majority of the land to Greg Ness.
Ness learned about the regional park plan and in February of 2019 he announced the land would be put in a trust for the regional park, provided the park committee made progress toward securing funding and purchasing the land for the park.
Since, the National Park Service has become a stakeholder in the project and provided a staff member to help direct the park committee. The NPS also provided funding to work with North Dakota State University graduate students to create an amenity plan for the park. Other entities have also become involved to look into land restoration and so forth.
Frazee City Clerk Denise Anderson stated she recently spoke with Ness about the ongoing progress, noting the city council, Burlington Township Board and Becker County Commissioners all signed a letter of support for the project. Anderson said Ness reviewed the master plan and was impressed with the work that had been done.
Residents ask to be
more involved in
People with property adjacent to the park requested the committee provide more information so they can be more involved in the park planning, as it progresses.
Concerns expressed by residents at the meeting had to do with increased traffic on a private road, as well as proximity of park amenities to their residences. It should be emphasized no one at the meeting expressed opposition to the park itself.
The park committee agreed to have a representative visit with landowners to create a list of concerns to a future planning meeting. All agreed having nearby property owners involved would be an asset and a way to ensure the park’s success, should it get funding.
Larson noted while the master plan is to be sent with a design concept, it is not set in stone and can be altered. She added even if acquisition happens with funding assistance there will be a few years of fundraising. During that time, the master plan can be tweaked.
Larson informed the committee that a landscape architect grad student has been assigned to assist on the project. She recommended the focus be defining the campsites, specifically how the spaces would be arranged.