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It’s empty for now, but this 26-acre plot of Goodhue County land near Lake Byllesby Park could become a campground and canoe rental facility through a proposal by Cannon Falls Canoe & Bike Rental. The county selected the idea Tuesday for additional design work. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)

Picture a Byllesby campground

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Picture a Byllesby campground
Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

Goodhue County will work with Cannon Falls Canoe & Bike Rental to flesh out a campground concept for a 26-acre plot next to Lake Byllesby Park.


Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to select the business’s proposal for a public-private partnership on the county-owned land, and will advance the project to the next design phase.

Owner William Lacefield said he envisions the site becoming a regional destination, and that the land “is an ideal spot for canoe and boat rentals.”  

The estimated $300,000 project would include tent sites, space for campers with electrical and sewage facilities, canoe launches and a multipurpose visitor center.

The campground and rental service is estimated to bring in around $78,600 annually to start, but that would likely increase as the site becomes established, according to the proposal. The county would collect 10 percent of gross sales with a guaranteed minimum of $5,000 per camping season. 

Lacefield said he has years of experience in the recreational industry and intends to run the venture with his two sons, Ben and Joe Lacefield.

The county issued a request for proposals for the land last November and received two responses by the Jan. 31 deadline, according to a staff report.

David Lorentz, owner of the nearby Spring Garden Nursery, also proposed a campground project, but the Goodhue County Parks, Trails and Recreation Advisory Board voiced concerns with his plan at a review in February.

Lorentz’s proposal outlined an indefinite partnership with the county that would have him take 50 percent ownership of the facility after 10 years and a $250,000 investment, Public Works Director Greg Isakson said at a Committee of the Whole discussion Tuesday. Lacefield instead proposed a 30-year partnership that would have to be renewed by County Board.

Although commissioners said they would like to see a campground be successful at the site, they hesitated to make an unspecified commitment.

“With a 30-year agreement, everyone knows what’s happening at the end of it,” Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said.

The county approved purchasing the land for $254,000 from a private owner in late-2012. The purchase was part of an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to extend Mill Towns Trail to Highway 52. The path ultimately will connect Cannon Valley Trail to the DNR’s Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail stretching from Faribault to Mankato.  

The DNR also plans to build a pedestrian bridge adjacent to the Byllesby Dam connecting the area with Dakota County’s Lake Byllesby Regional Park to the north.

The county will seek input from the DNR during the campground design process, Isakson said. 

Michael Brun
Michael Brun is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program. He has worked for the Republican Eagle since March 2013, covering county government, health and local events. 
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