by Dennis Dalman
Negotiations are still underway in an effort for the City of Sartell to take a vital first step in securing property for a much-hoped-for Sauk River Regional Park.
A statewide bonding bill by the State Legislature in 2010 allocated $500,000 to the City of Sartell for the purchase of that potential parkland, an amount that requires the city also to spend $500,000 for the project.
That bonding amount expired at the end of December 2012. However, Sartell city officials said they intend to ask the legislature to extend the $500,000 amount into this year. City staff and the Sartell City Council had hoped to successfully complete a land-acquisition agreement before the bond amount expired, but that could not be done in time. In the past couple of weeks, those negotiations have intensified. Sartell City Planner and Developer Anita Rasmussen said she cannot divulge details at this point because the confidential negotiations are still underway with what is known as the Dehler Family Trust, which owns the 68 acres of land that could become a regional park. Rasmussen said it’s possible the city could purchase only part of the 68 acres for a park. City officials are hoping at least a tentative land-purchase agreement can be reached before the city council makes a formal decision to ask the legislature to re-authorize the bonding funds.
The land is located in south Sartell along the Sauk River next to Whitney Park in north St. Cloud. Last month, the city council rezoned that parcel of land, designating the low level of land as parkland and the upper reaches of land as “mixed-use,” meaning a mixture of residential, business and commercial.
Along with the state bond amount of a half-million dollars, Sartell has also received a State Heritage grant of $500,000 for a regional park, which requires the city to spend $50,000 toward the park project. The total the city would need to spend to get both the bond amount and the grant is $550,000, and that money would come from half-cent sales-tax revenues.
For many years, city officials and Sartell residents have expressed a strong interest in creating a park on the scenic acres of what’s known as the “Dehler Property.” Planners intend to keep the natural beauty of that scenic area but add trails and recreational river access.
The Sauk River is a 122-mile-long watershed of the Mississippi River. Originating at Lake Osakis in Todd County, it flows east through Sauk Lake, past Sauk Centre, then southeast past Melrose and Richmond, then northeast through Cedar Island Lake and Zumwalde Lake, past Waite Park and then into the Mississippi River at a point between Sartell and St. Cloud.