Contributed photo
The encircled portion in the upper right corner of the map is the third parcel that is no longer part of the future park project.

By Robert Williams


Representing the Frazee Community Development Corporation (FCDC), Polly Anderson submitted an updated resolution to the city council on the Wannigan Park project at Wednesday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting at the Frazee Event Center.

“We hope to come away tonight with your support for this resolution,” she said.

The FCDC had run into some difficulties in attempting to attain two large grants for the purchase of the three parcels of land that will eventually become the park.

“We were required to limit the land to the cost of the fair market value,” said Anderson.

To do so, 16.8 acres have been removed from the purchase in an area that sits in what would be the far northeast corner of the originally proposed purchase.

“We had no park plans for that area,” Anderson said. “This allows us to reduce the cost of the park.”

The total acreage of the proposed purchase dropped from 174.55 acres to 157.75 acres.

“There are no changes to the park concept plan,” said Anderson.

The seller has agreed to the fair market value, currently estimated at $585,000.

Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota is in favor of the new scenario, according to Anderson. The Trails Council has taken on some of the land due diligence, acting on behalf of the FCDC to meet state funding requirements, like environmental surveys and such.

“To open the floodgates of the money from the Parks and Trails Council we have changed this resolution; we feel it’s a better resolution,” said Anderson. “We’re very happy with this and so is the Legislative Commission (Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources). We’ve explained this language to them. Although the staff is not able to comment on how this affects us, we see that the LCCMR has put us into the recommended projects and we’ve been approved for $727,000 and now that we’re lowering that to an estimate of $585,000, we feel that we are in a much better position to receive that funding. The best case scenario is that the money is right there today but we’re not in that situation. We are in a situation where the landowner is willing to work with the Parks and Trails Council in order to close at a much earlier timeline, around February/March.”

The Trails Council is willing to act as an agent for the purchase so that when the grant money is awarded it would be paid to the Trails Council and then the land would accrue to the City of Frazee.

“This has not come without challenges,” Anderson said. “We have to hold steadfast to not levy the taxpayers of Frazee to pay for this. This is why we’re in this wonderful position to have Parks and Trails Council float that land purchase for us in order for our non-profit to meet the requirements of the grant that is forthcoming.”

The Parks and Trails Council would be granting a no-interest loan to the FCDC for the purchase and four years to pay the money back. The FCDC is looking for the backing of the city as a guarantor to make that happen, something the council tabled two months ago awaiting more information from the non-profit.

The Frazee Parks and Trails Committee spoke with the Trails Council about the new resolution.

“I think there are some ways that we could potentially look at being the guarantor without necessarily exposing tax payers to a great deal of liability in four years, potentially,” vice mayor Mike Sharp said.

Anderson noted the FCDC needs the resolution signed by the council at the upcoming monthly meeting in two weeks to proceed.

“To open that transaction so that they can get the landowner his money, we need this resolution signed,” she said. “They’re looking for that community commitment and that’s what this is.”

Anderson submitted a total of 10 different possible grants the non-profit is aiming to pursue with hopeful plans to begin work in the park in 2023.

While the board does not vote on official decisions at the Committee of the Whole meetings, the response to Anderson’s proposal was far more positive than during the initial discussions in August.

“I firmly believe there is a path forward with the resolution,” Sharp said.

The next city council meeting will be held at the Fire Hall Monday, Nov. 21.