Frazee native Cody Piper attends as County EDA specialist
By Robert Williams
The recent downtown demolition was discussed at the monthly meeting of the Frazee Economic Development Authority, along with a visit from recently appointed Becker County Economic Development Specialist Cody Piper on Tuesday, July 25, at the Fire Hall.
Economic development consultant Don Lorsung held a discussion earlier in the day with Phil Erb, who took down the Seip and Sanders buildings.
“Phil told me the remainder of the drug store wall has to stay in place; that can’t be taken down,” Lorsung said.
The top of the wall is open to the elements and will need to be capped, along with some brickwork and brick removal.
The wall will need to be skim coated to smooth out the surface for a potential mural or simple aesthetics.
“Right now, it’s too rough to use for anything,” Lorsung said.
According to Erb, the remaining wall needs to stay in place to support the wall of the post office.
The Seip building was in existence when the post office was built, according to EDA Chair Hank Ludtke, and the post office wall is supported by the wall.
A contractor will be hired for an estimate on what needs to be done and costs.
“It needs to be down before winter,” said Lorsung.
A portion on top of the wall will need to be removed and block capped.
The edge of the wall has been taped off with danger tape to keep people from getting too close to the wall and some exposed nails and bolts.
Future of the space
After discussions with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Mayor Mark Flemmer reported that a preliminary plan for a large turkey statue in the space was met with concern due to visibility issues. The white turkey across the street is an option to move.
Plans are still in development and there likely won’t be much development until next spring, according to Flemmer.
One certainty is more parking to alleviate the lack of spaces downtown.
EDA and city council member Jim Rader reported that he has been involved in multiple discussions with downtown business owners about the need for more parking, especially on Lake Street, where parking was lost due to the Highway 87 construction last summer.
There will likely be five spaces located where the Sanders Oil building stood and the lot will be gravel initially with plans to pave it at a future date, potentially tying the project into next year’s East Main Avenue construction project.
Black dirt and grass will be installed on the remainder of the lot by city workers.
Lorsung advised that water and electric hookups should be installed for future use.
According to Flemmer, Karen Pifher is pursuing a grant for a mural to eventually be painted on the exposed wall and will be releasing a request for proposals from area artists when the time comes.
County Industrial Park Land
Becker Economic Development Specialist Cody Piper is a Frazee native and the county’s former Chief Assessor. He began working at his new position May 8.
Piper discussed how the county EDA can assist with funding, assistance and resources.
Ludtke led a group discussion on potential projects that could use aid from the county EDA, including the 15 acres of County Industrial Park Land.
Multiple businesses were unable to move to Frazee in the recent past, including Steve’s Sanitation, because of conflicting agreements with the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation (MMCDC), which owns adjacent land between the back of the Red Willow development and the industrial park and the EDA.
MMCDC has denied the city access to install needed industrial infrastructure across their dozen acres in the area beyond Marine Innovations that MMCDC manages for the county.
“We don’t want vacant land just sitting out there, obviously,” said Piper. “I think MMCDC would be supportive of something to make more housing.”
Currently, all infrastructure ends at Marine Innovations and Red Willow. The group discussed potential connections to appease all parties with both business and residential solutions.
The EDA had a study completed in the past about building apartments on the back end of Red Willow with an entrance off Frazee Road, rather than creating traffic in the Red Willow development.
Tackling the infrastructure problem is a first step to expanding in either direction.
Northern Dental Access Center
There will be a meeting the second week of August to discuss the future Frazee $9 million Northern Dental Access Center (NDAC). Frazee was selected as the site for the new dental center in February.
At that time, NDAC Executive Director Jean Edevold Larson called the future of the project a ‘chicken and egg adventure,’ “because until we know the site it’s very difficult to get construction costs estimated accurately and then we know how much money we need to raise. It’s a long process.”
The meeting will be discussing continued fundraising and funding sources.
“They are waiting to hear on some grants,” Lorsung said.
There is no specific timeline on construction.
Town Lake Beach
The city office received the results from the Phase II archaeological survey over the weekend at Town Lake Beach. The survey has been holding up the planned improvements at the beach with a $250,000 grant, a new beach house, new bathrooms, an area with concessions and non-motorized boat rentals, as well as a place to gather have all been discussed since 2021.
The project was put on hold when an on-site archeological dig found fragments of a Knife River Flint flake (chip of stone from making a stone tool). The artifact was stated to be an exotic material, which does not naturally occur in central Minnesota.
In Situ Archaeological Consulting, LLC, the company doing the surveys will submit the results to the state authorities for a decision on if and when the beach project can begin.
The Frazee Park and Recreation committee will review the full report at their next meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 9
Wannigan Regional Park
Ludtke reported that the Frazee Community Development Corporation (FCDC) will be submitting an Americorps application to aid in completing a connection from the park to the Northland Trail after discussions with Phil Doll, Private Lands Biologist with the Becker County Soil and Water District on Friday, July 21. The district is using Americorps for conservation planning at the site in 2024.
Planning will also include future intra-park trails.
Ashley Renollet and Ludtke recently addressed thistles growing along property fence lines on the perimeter of the park that border with residential neighbors.
Chamber of Commerce
The EDA renewed the Event Center’s $254 annual membership with the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce.