County tables decision to buy land near Lake Byllesby ParkGoodhue County commissioners opted to wait until December to decide whether they want to dish out a quarter of a million dollars to buy land near Lake Byllesby Park.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County commissioners opted to wait until December to decide whether they want to dish out a quarter of a million dollars to buy land near Lake Byllesby Park.
Public Works Director Greg Isakson brought the proposal before the board because the land needs to be purchased for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to extend the Mill Towns State Trail.
Last year, the DNR asked the Minnesota Parks and Trails Council to negotiate with the landowner east of and adjacent to Lake Byllesby Park for land acquisition for the Mill Towns Trail. While the trail will only run on the northern portion of the land, the landowner won’t split up his property.
“He’s indicated he’s willing to sell but he’s not willing to sell part of it,” Isakson explained to the board. “He wants to sell all of it or none of it.”
Since DNR officials can’t justify buying the entire property — they have a limited amount of money they can use and the southern portion of land really has nothing to do with the trail — they approached Goodhue County about a joint venture.
Purchasing the 26-acre plot of land would cost Goodhue County $254,000. It could be paid for by combining available Park Improvements Funds (about $35,000) with other county funds. County Auditor Carolyn Holmsten wasn’t concerned about the county lacking the money to buy the land.
“If this is a priority, we can fund it,” she said.
The land could produce some money for the county depending on how it is used. The county’s Parks, Trails and Recreation Advisory Board suggested several options, including RV camping, wild flower planting, trail head parking, additional walking trails, a dog park or a sports complex.
“I think a quarter of a million dollars is quite a bit of money … but I like the idea of the RV park because that would generate some income,” Commissioner Ted Seifert said.
Even if the county purchases the 26-acre plot, however, there are still two other properties to the east for which the DNR would need to obtain trail easements to get Mill Towns Trail out to Highway 52.
The board was hesitant about continuing with such a large purchase before having confirmation that the DNR will obtain those easements.
“We should probably know what’s going on so we don’t still have another gap,” Commissioner Jim Bryant said. “Let’s get that whole thing ironed out on paper.”
“If they can give us some assurance that they are going to move forward with those two parcels, we’ll give assurance back,” Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel agreed.
The issue was tabled to a December board meeting to allow time for staff to get a written commitment from the DNR. Meetings are planned for Dec. 6 and 18.