Local officials pitch $1.85 million bonding request

Photo by Robert Williams
Polly Andersen, second from left, discusses Wannigan Regional Park with members of the Capital Investment Committee from right Sen. Scott Dibble, Sen. Jordan Rasmusson, Sen. Susan Pha, Sen. Karin Housley, Sen. Sandy Pappas, Sen. Zaynab Mohamed, Superintendent Terry Karger, City Councilman Jim Rader, School Board Chair Thaddeus Helmers, Vice Chair Kimberly Antonsen, City Council Vice Chair Mike Sharp, Andersen and CornerStone Board member Karen Pifher.

By Robert Williams


Capital Investment Committee Members and regional senators were in Frazee Tuesday, Aug. 15, as part of a 25-site visit around northwest Minnesota as part of the 2023 Bonding Tour.

Senate Capital Investment Committee Chair Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) and Vice Chair Senator Susan Pha (DFL-Brooklyn Park) were joined by fellow committee members ranking minority member Senator Karin Housley; Senator Scott Dibble, Senator Zaynab Mohamed; Senator Jordan Rasmusson and Senator Paul Utke.

Sen. Pappas led a short, but vigorous question period to gather information from local officials about the North River Loop Project and the city of Frazee’s request for $1.85 million from next year’s bonding bill.

Photo by Robert Williams
Capital Investment Committee Members and other state senators from the region were in Frazee Tuesday, Aug. 15, to discuss a $1.85 million bonding request for the North River Loop project to complete water and sewer infrastructure and paved road access to Wannigan Regional Park. L-R: Polly Andersen, Don Lorsung, Stephanie Poegel, Jim Rader, City Engineer Chris Thorson, Sen. Jordan Rasmusson, Mike Sharp, Karen Pifher, Sen. Paul Utke, Sen. Karin Housley, Sen. Sandy Pappas, Sen. Susan Pha, Thaddeus Helmers, Sen. Zaynab Mohamed, Sen. Scott Dibble, Terry Karger, Kimberly Antonsen, Roxann Daggett.

City Engineer Chris Thorson gave an overview of the project, along with orientating the visitors to the landscape.

The request is for engineering design, permitting, construction of water and sewer infrastructure and road access along the North River Loop that goes through the new Wannigan Regional Park. 

A map drafted by Widseth engineers showed how these initial developments will create camping revenue and set up the park for future amenities and more trails. 

Bonding will provide improved access to the park from both Highways 29 and 87, clean water and sewer, long-term financial stability for the park through income generation via recreational vehicle and primitive campground sites, as well as other amenities.

City Administrator Stephanie Poegel noted the current campsite in town has been overbooked all summer, as a small example of how camping spaces are needed in the area and will be used. She also explained the need for bonding to avoid large assessments to both the school and two nearby residences.

Hank Ludtke explained the uniqueness of the 157-acre Wannigan Park as the only place in Minnesota where three trails meet: the National North Country Scenic Trail, the Heartland Trail and the Otter Tail State Water Trail. 

Senator Pappas complimented the number of people in attendance and the community support for the project. 

School board chair Thaddeus Helmers and vice chair Kimberly Antonsen spoke on behalf of the school and the benefits of paving North River Road for events and daily use.

Frazee Community Development Corporation member Polly Andersen answered a number of questions regarding initial funding for the purchase of the park land, along with explaining the phase development plans for the future of the park.

Karen Pifher gave a recap of the evolution of CornerStone Youth and Community Center as an example of the fundraising work that is already going on in Frazee.

The tour had a local stop at Washington Ballpark in Detroit Lakes, along with stops in: Akeley; Barnesville; Breckenridge; Browerville; Carlos; Climax; Crosslake; East Grand Forks; Flensburg; Fosston; Freeport; Halstad; Little Falls; Mahnomen; Roosevelt; Roseau and Thief River Falls.

The committee’s visits will be split between five regional tours, beginning in September and ending in November. The committee last conducted regional tours in the fall of 2021, which laid the groundwork for this year’s $2.6 billion investment in infrastructure and jobs.