by Dennis Dalman
A pedestrian bridge – to have or have not – was at the center of a Jan. 8 Sartell City Council discussion about improvements at Sauk River Regional Park.
The city has about $950,000 in state grant money to spend for improvements and amenities at that park, which is located north of CR 120 across from the Epic Center mall area.
Sartell Planner Developer Anita Archambeau outlined options the council could consider to approve as go-ahead projects. City staff needs council direction so planners can know which projects are preferred and then specifics and costs can be prepared.
One of the options is a pedestrian bridge that could be constructed, joining the west and the east areas of the park across the Sauk River. A consensus developed among council members that although the bridge might be a useful amenity, it’s just too expensive to justify the cost. The money, they agreed, would be better spent on less expensive but more useful improvements/amenities. The bridge would cost an estimated $730,000, which would leave only about $220,000 for the other options. However, even those not keen about a pedestrian bridge said they would not rule it out quite yet.
Most on the council seemed to favor spending the funds on practical improvements in the park: trail improvements, developments and expansions; signage; and some form of restroom facility.
Sartell Public Works Director John Kothenbeutel told the council he is not sure how much use the park gets but that just about every time he or his crew were there, they would see cars in the parking lot and at least a few people walking the park trails.
Several council members noted there is no public clamber to have a pedestrian bridge built in the park.
All council members agreed they should take a walking tour of the park as soon as the weather warms up, in late March or early April. Archambeau noted in the meantime staff can prepare some plans with the bridge added and without the bridge added. The lion’s share of the funds now in the city’s possession must be used by 2020 and can only be used for that specific park, Archambeau said.
Land for Sauk River Regional Park was obtained thanks to a state Legacy Grant about 10 years ago. So far, a parking lot and lighting were put in on the west-side entrance to the park, as well as some development of a trail system, temporary signage and native plantings.
Archambeau outlined the following options:
- A trailhead restroom structure, with or without utilities that could be extended from the CR 120 area. Council members seemed to favor a rustic structure that would be a compost-style of restroom service. Cost: with utilities, about $140,000; without utilities, $50,000.
- Trailhead park shelter with storage capacity and overhang over picnic tables. About $240,000.
- An overlook deck on a bluff in the park. About $224,000.
- A trailhood shelter with the bluff overlook. About $500,000.
- An earthen amphitheater. About $280,000.
- Small internal shelters, rather like bus-stop shelters. Depending on how many, from $2,000 to $10,000.
- Beach improvements on one part of the Sauk River’s edge, about $50,000.
- Trail improvements and extensions for walking and skiing. Cost to be determined depending on extent of the trail system.
- Kiosks and informational signs. Anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.
- Directional signage. About $15,000.
- Purchase additional property next to the park. Depending on how much purchase, anywhere from $233,000 to $400,000.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.