Lake access association to be formed 

City-owned Eagle Lake Park has been appraised at $190,000, which opens up the potential sale of the property to a future lake access association per conversations between the Department of Natural Resources, Becker County, the Frazee city council and area lake homeowners.

By Robert Williams

Editor

Eagle Lake Park on the south side of the lake has been a point of contention about park maintenance and lake access between the city and area lake owners in 2022. A recent appraisal of the property has the park and access brought both sides closer to a potential sale to an association that has yet to be created.

A city council meeting earlier this year brought the subject to a head.

“We had planned on putting four campsites out there, but that met with a lot of resistance,” city administrator Jordin Roberts said. “So, we decided to go in a different direction.”

Some Eagle Lake residents met with the council and threatened a potential lawsuit against the campsite plan, while others voiced complaints about the safety of the park. The discussion turned to raised voices and emotional outbursts.

The heated exchange between the lake group and the city council did little good for either side and led city officials to ponder closing the park down.

“The only thing we were missing was throwing chairs,” said vice mayor Mike Sharp.

The park is home to the only public access on Eagle Lake. 

“I was all for shutting it down or blocking it up and not letting them launch boats out there,” said councilman Mark Flemmer.

Both Sharp and Flemmer are on the parks and recreation committee as well.

Much of the concern about safety was the park and playground area allowing for children to wander from that area to the access while boats were being launched, along with unseemly park visitors posing potential threats to children. A heightened police presence at the park was requested and the city was accused of not properly maintaining the park.

Some Eagle Lake residents sent letters to the city discussing those and other topics.

The reason the city wanted to install campsites was to make the park self-sustaining financially.

“Our whole goal was to find some way to pay for it,” said Flemmer.

Roberts explained the relative expenses involved in keeping up the park including insurance, mowing, equipment damage and replacement, along with usage and potential damage to park amenities like instances where park benches were put in the lake by guests. The playground equipment needs updates to be legally compliant and the former beach is currently an eroded shoreline.

“It’s an expensive entity to maintain,” Roberts said. “We tried to present a solution on how we could take care of it and that solution got shot down.”

Recent city council meetings have seen a much calmer discussion on the topic as both parties awaited the appraisal of the property in an effort to find a sales price the past six weeks.

The city is willing to part with the park, while the lake residents will likely need to form an association to manage it themselves. The main goal of both parties is to keep the access open.

From the city side, the association is the way to go simply because we can sell it at the appraised value. If we do it privately, we’re opening it up to bids and that could go maybe higher. We really don’t want to do it on the private side as much because that will take away your possible access. Our intention is to provide the access that you guys need out there and get us out of the park business in that area.

– Frazee City Councilman Mark Flemmer on selling the Eagle Lake Park

Doing so via an access committee or association was a recommendation from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

“That seemed like a viable solution to the city,” said Flemmer.

According to discussions by the parks and recreation committee, the park and visitors to the access do not necessarily benefit the city from the south side of the lake, while the city is stuck with all the costs of keeping up the park. 

At the most recent city council meeting Monday, June 20, it was announced that the property appraisal was completed at a value of $190,000. Tony Stock and John Drewes spoke on behalf of the lake residents.

Stock mentioned a fundraiser to raise the purchase money and donate the park to Becker County, along with trying to form an association, noting the difficulty of getting all the lakeowners on board, as well as collecting money.

“If that’s the option we have to take, whatever we have to do,” said Tony Stock. “You have to tell us what direction you’re going, what you want for it, what you feel the best route is and what you want to see as an end result. I just want to use the lake, plain and simple, whether there is a park there or it’s just an access.”

According to mayor Ken Miosek, both the DNR and Becker County have stated they do not have the manpower to maintain the park.

Drewes was more forthright with his opinion on the situation, reiterating the importance of the lake access.

“As a property and business owner that has a lot to do with the waterfront, I want access to the water just like every other individual on that lake,” said Drewes. “Maybe there is an exception or two, but if that access goes away there are a bunch of unhappy people. Their property values are affected. Personally, I’m still wondering how in the hell you guys are selling an access that’s been in place for a long time that gets used on a regular basis by literally thousands of people every summer.”

Drewes also noted the difficulties in working with lake associations, along with other people who live in the area who are unconcerned with the lake access.

Flemmer responded with the reason behind selling the property to an association.

“From the city side, the association is the way to go simply because we can sell it at the appraised value,” Flemmer said. “If we do it privately, we’re opening it up to bids and that could go maybe higher. We really don’t want to do it on the private side as much because that will take away your possible access. Our intention is to provide the access that you guys need out there and get us out of the park business in that area.”

Liability is a big question when it comes to any new owner. By selling the property, the city will not have to insure the area and all liability will change hands to an association or a private buyer. The road that runs through the park is a township issue. The park is a far bigger issue than the boat launch. 

“It’s been there for so long, I think somebody in the room would probably agree that just because it changes hands as far as possession goes it isn’t going to change people going there to use it,” said Drewes.

Further discussion was had between Stock and Flemmer with Stock questioning why the city just wants to unload the property and Flemmer reiterating the attempt to install campsites was the only way to fiscally maintain the property and have it be a benefit to the city.

“It definitely benefits the lake owners more than the citizens of Frazee,” councilman Mark Kemper said.

The main reason to sell is not to just relinquish ownership of the property but to rid the city of having to maintain it and the associated costs.

“There are other places in town where that money could be better utilized, we feel,” said Roberts.

“It just isn’t advantageous for the city to maintain it,” said Flemmer.

Another issue is the city is trying to improve Town Lake and the beachhouse there. To do so the city needs to come up with $250,000 to match a grant for the project. The sale of Eagle Lake Park would provide all but $60,000 of those funds. The Town Lake project remains on hold due to the recent archeological finds there.

With the property appraisal submitted at $190k, the ball is now in the court of lake property owners on forming an association, making the purchase, then setting the financial agreements and maintenance logistics on the future of Eagle Lake Park. The group could also parcel out some of the land and sell to recoup the cost while keeping the access open. Stock also reiterated the idea of donating the park to the county in the future.

An interesting tidbit is the city purchased the Eagle Lake property in the 1930’s for $100, which was three times the going price at the time.

A Flemmer motion of an intent to sell the property to a future association and come to an agreement by the upcoming August city council meeting was passed 3-1. Councilwoman Nicole Strand was absent. Mayor Miosek was the lone dissenting vote due to discussions he has had with concerned people on the subject, but for no other reason.