Non-profit plans to pave North River Road behind ballparks

Frazee City Council members: Andrea Froeber, Jim Rader, Mayor Mark Flemmer, Mark Kemper and Vice Mayor Mike Sharp listen to FCDC board member Polly Andersen discuss upcoming work to be done at Wannigan Regional Park during the council’s bi-weekly meeting Wednesday, June 29, at the Frazee Event Center.

By Robert Williams


Paving the connecting road from Highways 29 and 87 to the future entrance of Wannigan Regional Park behind the school ballfields has been added to the 2024 state bonding request, merging the Wannigan project with the Heartland Trail connection from Frazee to the park, according to Frazee Community Development Corporation (FCDC) board member Polly Andersen.

State bonding funds will be requested in 2024 for the North River Loop Project to pave North River Drive and the connecting gravel road around the ballparks and leading to Becker County Highway 29. The project includes the Heartland Trail connection from the school and sewer and water to Wannigan Regional Park.

With the aid of Karen Pifher, Frazee City Administrator Stephanie Poegel submitted the bonding request for the North River Loop Project, which includes looping water, sewer, road and trail improvements from Becker County Highway 29 around the ballparks to North River Road ending at State Highway 87.

The update on the roads and transferring the park to the city of Frazee later this year were discussed at the biweekly meeting of the City Council Wednesday, June 28, at the Event Center.

“The Heartland Trail would run along those two roadway areas,” Andersen said. “It makes a lot of sense to make that road out to the park paved, so we’re investigating that, filling out the initial application to the state for the budget and we’ll just continue to work and report back on what we learn.”

FCDC has some leeway in regards to any gap between how much money they request from the state and how much is actually awarded, due to local contributions and other potential grant opportunities.

“Our intention is that the taxpayers of Frazee would not realize any incremental burden for any gap,” said Andersen.

The roadwork and adding the Heartland Trail jumps the total of the FCDC’s bonding request for next year from $1.56 million to $1.85 million.

“I think that would be a very nice addition to the ball fields too,” said council member Jim Rader. “That would be a major improvement. That would make that facility, which is a pretty nice ballfield facility already, better too.”

The entrance to the park is planned to be just past the last softball field at the end of North River Road and the project would include sewer and utilities to the park.

There will be future community engagements to get feedback on initial plans for the park and while FCDC wants the public’s input, the board of the non-profit is also concerned with not passing on any expenses to local taxpayers and the city.

“The city shouldn’t have any expenditures, at all,” said Andersen. 

“I really appreciate the work you’re doing as far as keeping the taxpayers off the hook,” Mayor Mark Flemmer said.

The water looping out to the park has a benefit to the city as it will tie back into a line directly from the water tower and into the Red Willow Estates, which is currently a dead end on the water system, according to City Engineer Chris Thorson.

Public Works Supervisor Larry Stephenson explained the setup in more detail.

“Red Willow Heights is fed off of West Ash and I think that’s an eight-inch pipe that goes out there,” Stephenson said. 

Thorson added that should that pipe ever fail, residents of Red Willow Heights would be without water until a repair is completed. The second pipe that would serve Wannigan Park and Red Willow would be a benefit in avoiding that potential problem.

The future project would include at least one new lift station.

The purchase agreement between FCDC and the City is scheduled for a goal date of Sept. 29 to transfer the park property to the city.

FCDC has officially closed on the purchase of the land and are now working on a survey, title assessment and completing certifications to complete the transfer from the non-profit to the city.

The state funds that were awarded for the purchase will be dispersed to the city the week of closing on the transfer in late September.

The council approved a resolution to request the state bonding funds unanimously.