Town Lake and Wannigan Parks discussed

Photo by Robert Williams
Upon an eventual spring thaw, a phase II archaeology study will be completed at Town Lake in time for upcoming changes to the area as part of the state highway 87 construction project. Construction cones and a detour sign arrived near the area as the project start date nears in May.

By Robert Williams

Editor

An agreement on moving forward with the Town Lake Beach study has been reached, according to city administrator Jordin Roberts, as reported at this month’s Frazee Economic Development Authority (EDA) Tuesday, April 26.

Roberts reported that an estimate of $3000 for a Phase II archaeology study was approved at the last city council meeting, an amount which is significantly lower than the original estimate of near $10,000. 

The scope of the study was narrowed by Abraham Ledezma of In Situ Archaeological Consulting, LLC, after conferring with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and state archaeologist Amanda Gronhovd, who reported the finding of a Knife River Flint flake (chip of stone from making a stone tool not native to Minnesota) last year.

Testing of the area is required at the site of the find to determine if the flake was off-chance or if there are potentially more finds. The scope of that area was reduced to a smaller search area, which in turn reduced the cost.

“They narrowed it down to just the location where she found the artifact.”

Jordin Roberts, Frazee City Administrator

Ledezma will complete the study when the ground thaws. 

The Town Lake Beach project is part of the upcoming $5 million State Highway 87 construction slated to begin in May. The proposed beach area remodel includes a new community building, offering new bathrooms, non-motorized watercraft rentals and concessions.

State Commission visit to Wannigan Park

EDA President Hank Ludtke announced the EDA will be meeting with members of the Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails Commission for a site visit to the Wannigan Regional Park area Wednesday, May 4 at 2:30 p.m.

The visit is important to the future of the park project, according to Polly Andersen, a member of the nonprofit Frazee Community Development Corporation.

“This is exciting because it’s a state agency. It’s our big chance to market the project and the team behind it and the first step to going to the state legislature for funding,” she said via telephone Wednesday, April 27.

Red Willow Heights Addition changes

Market rate pricing for lots in the Red Willow Heights lots was discussed, mainly that there will no longer be Tax Increment Funding (TIF) assistance to lot buyers, according to economic development consultant Don Lorsung. 

“There simply is not enough time remaining in the time period for the TIF district to recapture money anywhere equivalent to the assessments against it.”

Don Lorsung, economic development consultant

The larger lots on the east side of the development need to be re-subdivided with a one-way alley constructed before they can be sold. Lorsung’s recommendation is to have at least 80 percent of the ready single-family lots sold prior to making the investment to re-subdivide and develop the east side lots.

New contingencies for lot sales were also recommended on the following conditions: a bank letter of commitment to finance construction of a new single-family dwelling, or a buyer letter of commitment showing proof of cash reserves necessary for construction; a down payment (non refundable earnest money) of 20 percent of the sale price of the lot with the remainder due at closing; a site plan or survey and construction plan for the new dwelling submitted prior to closing the lot sale. 

Lorsung noted some struggles the past two years in the development of buyers backing out of the subsidized lots and the need for the contingencies.

Sales would also be conditioned that if construction is not started within 12 months of the date of closing, ownership would revert to the EDA, with a refund of the purchase minus city legal costs. 

The 12-month agreement is flexible to nearly 24 months to finish building. The concern is more about if progress is being made and that progress needs to be seen in the first year.

“One of the issues we’re having right now is we have four of them that have been purchased but they are sitting there empty,” said Roberts. “We would like to see this get developed. We don’t want to just have empty lots. We’re pushing buyers to actually develop it, not hold on to it and resell it in five years.”

In total, there are 23 lots available.

Interested parties do not have to meet with the EDA to make a lot purchase. That can be done by contacting Roberts at the city office.

Multi-family RFP approved for city council

The EDA approved a request for proposals (RFP) for multi-family housing developers for the city-owned 4.05 acre site located next to Dollar General to be used for the eventual sale.

The RFP will be sent to the city council for final approval.

“Ideally, the project would have a maximum of 20 total housing units, either twin homes or four-plexes with off-street parking.”

Don Lorsung

The site was identified in 2021 as a better area for multi-family development when pushback amid concerns from residents in the Red Willow Heights development negated that area for consideration. The council received signatures from residents opposing the concept.

Members of the city council also opposed the idea and recommended the multi-family units would be better placed in other locations. The lot near the Dollar General being one that was considered at the February 2021 meeting. 

One big change was a recommendation for a maximum of 20 units. The original RFP had proposed 40-50 units over the next five years.

“We don’t want to have these standing on top of each other,” Roberts said. “If it’s more or less, I don’t think it would vary significantly from that. It depends on how they plan to use the space.”

The city is offering water access charge and sewer access charge reductions and land subsidies to developers willing to create housing on the lot that is: affordable to households at 60 percent of the area’s median income and lower; intended for seniors or those 55+; is moderate to higher density, multi-family housing.

Ultimately, the city will set terms of the sale