by Dennis Dalman
a kayak landing, trail paving and other amenities.
A bridge would likely be a target for vandalism, and it would be dangerous if young people would jump off it into the water, jeopardizing their lives, Chisum added. The bridge now in that park, one that connects the park to St. Cloud, has been frequently vandalized and covered with graffiti, Chisum noted.
Chisum said the city council pondered building a bridge at that park, but there was never any passionate commitment about the proposal.
“It just kind of faded away, and I’m kind of glad it did,” he said.
Sauk River Regional Park, across the street from Epic Center, was declared a regional park in 2014. It is comprised of 44 acres of woodland with the Sauk River running through part of it. The proposed bridge (for hiking, biking) would be about 450 feet long and eight-feet wide.It would connect the largest part of the park with 14 acres on the other side of the Sauk River. That 14-acre portion of the park is almost impossible to gain access to without a bridge.
Currently, there are unpaved trails throughout the park, a paved parking lot and some information signs. With the help of Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (R-Sartell), a $1-million grant was secured from the state some years ago. That grant, however, must be used for amenities in the park, or the city will have to forfeit it.
City Engineer Jon Halter said there has never been a firm consensus by the council for building that bridge but that preliminary work should be done, such as soil borings, just in case the council should decide to construct the bridge. The total cost, he said, would likely be about $750,000.
Council member Tim Elness said he is in favor of the bridge. It would be a vital part of the infrastructure so other amenities could be added later. In time, the bridge and amenities would hopefully attract many more individuals and groups to the scenic park.
Mayor Ryan Fitzthum said he is open to adding amenities such as a scenic overlook and kayak landing area but that any amenities must be chosen carefully to protect the natural beauty of the park.
After further discussion, the council authorized the soil testing for a possible bridge. If the council decides definitely to build a bridge, work on the project could begin this fall, Halter noted.
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.