St. Joseph Community Airs Opinions on Future of Kraemer Lake-Wildwood Park
WAITE PARK -- Tensions ran high at tonight's (Wednesday) meeting discussing the future of Kraemer Lake-Wildwood Park in St. Joseph.
The first plans for the renovated park were purposed earlier this year and left many Kraemer Lake community members with concerns.
Since the last meeting in February the Stearns County Parks Commission and SRE Consulting Group, Inc. have gone back to the drawing board to address some of the issues brought up by the community.
The renovated park will still include plans for improving the roads and trails throughout the park with an emphasis on expanding Kipper Road and making it the main entrance to the park.
A 54 parking space parking lot will also still be included in the plan along with small picnic areas.
With community members strongly disagreeing with a motorized boat access developers have changed their plans for the boat access to only include non-motorized boats saying this will help prevent water pollution in the lake.
A swimming beach and fishing pier are still in the works but the community is not sold on the idea of the area being a good spot for a beach. Marilu Hornstein lives on the lake and says it's very "mucky" and swimming in the lake could hurt it's ecosystem.
"It [creating a beach] destroys the spawning areas for the fish and I can't imagine that this is approved because it seems the DNR would want to preserve the lake the way it is," says Hornstein.
Park hours and lighting of the park after dark were apart of tonight's major concerns. Marcia Teigen, who lives on Kraemer Lake, says she doesn't want any artificial lighting to comprise the beauty of the night sky off the lake.
"When the northern lights are out we can see them perfectly on the other side of the side, the stars are just brilliant at night and if they add artificial lighting it will just take that all away," says Teigen.
Stearns County Park Director Peter Theismann says anyone concerned about the park's lighting should check out other Stearns County parks that are open into the evening such as the Mississippi Park.
Theismann also says that a certain level of lighting is required by law enforcement to help keep the area safe after dark.
Park hours were another hot button topic of the evening.
Another Lake Kraemer neighbor, Julie Ramler says the Kraemer Lake community is really fighting for the park to close at sunset. Ramler says it closing at dark would help the park be a safer place and will reduce the noise in the area.
"We live there [Kraemer Lake] this is our home, it's like plopping down a park in someone elses neighborhood saying 'okay we're going to allow alcohol and we're going to allow it stay open until 11 o'clock at night, to bad for you'," says Ramler.
The Stearns County Park Commission did comment during the meeting saying the hours of the park will be determined after more development has been completed but it's safe to say it is in favor of the park being closed at sunset.
Environmental concerns were brought up at both the last meeting and tonight's meeting. Stewart Crosby with SRF Consulting says they reworked the original plan, pushed back the location of the facilities so they will be farther away from the lake and changed the design of the restrooms to help protect the park from pollution.
The final master plan is divided into four main phases including a future phase for the park.
Phase 1 includes construction on Kipper Road, the parking lot, the main picnic shelter, restrooms, fishing pier and vegetative screening.
Phase 2 includes development of the small picnic areas, canoe launch and small play area.
Phase 3 finishes the parking lot, adds a vault restroom, develops the beach area and creates new trails.
The future phase purposes a new hiking trail, restoration of the trailhead parking lot and ecological restoration. Overall, the total cost for the park project is $3,108,000.
Theismann says most of the funding will come from the state, grants, property taxes and the legacy amendment.
"That [the legacy amendment] was a new tax that we [Stearns County] imposed on ourselves in 2008, 58 percent of Stearns County voters voted in favor of that tax," says Theismann.
The legacy amendment helps fund hunting and fishing land, recreational parks and art related projects in Stearns County.
As for right now the project hasn't raised any funds to begin development.
The county board will be deciding whether to approve the plan or not at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 12.