by Dennis Dalman
A Sartell Community Center will likely be built in one of three places in the city after the city council at its July 13 meeting chose three preferred sites out of eight that were under consideration.
The council arrived at a consensus on the following sites: the Ferche/Weyer land in south Sartell near the old round barn; land just off of Heritage Drive about two-thirds mile east of the intersection of Pinecone Road and CR 133; and the so-called Vilcheck property north of Pinecone Central Park, which the city purchased two years ago from its owner.
The city owns two of the three potential sites. The Ferche/Weyer parcel, however, is privately owned, although the land’s owners said they might be amenable to a land swap with the city.
Before the July 13 council meeting, former Sartell Mayor Joe Perske addressed the council during the Open Forum session. He told the council Sartell residents have waited for decades for a library in the city to happen. Perske said a library should be centrally located in the city so people, especially children, would have easy access to it.
The site parameters were presented by Murray Mack, who used an overhead projector to point out salient features of each site. Mack was hired by the City of Sartell to formulate an architectural plan for a community center.
Mack said it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to build a center in Pinecone Regional Park because of wetlands issues and soil, especially near the Bernick’s Arena area. Another potential site, by the golf course in Pinecone Central Park, was also disqualified because of wetlands issues.
The Ferche/Weyer site is where Sartell hopes to create a “downtown,” which will be called Town Square. Mack said there are 20 acres of land there on the north side of a holding pond. Amenities that could be added to that site, he suggested, are an amphitheater, a floating island, a fishing pier and a forested area. The site is south of Pine Cone Marketplace where the Coborn’s Super Store and other businesses are located. Chateau Waters, a luxury senior apartment building, is also under construction near that site.
The Vilcheck property is a long rectilinear site with access to Pinecone Road and 15th Street N. It is a semi-wetland area, but it is a buildable site, Mack noted.
He also said the Heritage Drive site is buildable as well, despite some wetlands there.
Council members were far from unanimous about the three sites. David Peterson, for example, does not like the site at Town Square because it is not central enough. Amy Braig-Lindstrom also had reservations about the Ferche/Weyer site. Peterson said he strongly favors the Vilcheck site while Braig-Lindstrom’s favorite is the Heritage Drive site. Steve Hennes and Pat Lynch, however, were enthusiastic about building near Town Square, saying a community center would bring synergy because of all the developments currently in that area or planned for that area.
Mayor Sarah Jane Nicoll said she is not at all in favor of the Heritage Drive site because it would, she said, present access problems.
Nicoll said no matter where a center is built, it will be close for some people but far for others.
“That’s just the way it is,” she said.
Mack said he and his staff would further study each site and report back to the council with details and perhaps some preliminary sketches as to how a center could fit on each of the three sites.