by Dennis Dalman
Sartell is one step closer to acquiring 68 acres of land for what might become Sauk River Regional Park in the southeast part of the city.
At its Sept. 24 meeting, the Sartell City Council voted 4-1 to approve a resolution authorizing city staff to move ahead with the purchase of that land if an acceptable contract can be achieved. Council member David Peterson voted “no” without stating a specific reason.
Just before the Sept. 24 council meeting, council members, some city staff and the city attorney met in a closed session to discuss the land purchase. They could not divulge details of what transpired at the closed session during the council meeting, but those details will be made public if and when the land-acquisition effort is resolved one way or another.
The 68 acres, long known as the “Dehler Property,” has been a part of the city’s long-range park plans for a decade or more. The land, which is located by the confluence of the Mississippi River and Sauk River, abuts Whitney Park in St. Cloud at its border with Sartell.
The land would be paid for by three major sources: a state bonding amount of $500,000, a $500,000 Minnesota Legacy grant and $500,000 from the city for a total of $1.5 million. The state bonding amount is dependent upon matching funds from Sartell ($500,000), and if the bonding amount is not accepted by the end of this year by the city, it will have to be forfeited.
Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland said the 68 acres fits nicely into Sartell’s long-range plans: to preserve natural habitat (including an eagle-nesting site), to enhance biodiversity and the river as a precious local resource and as a regional park that would benefit Sartell, St. Cloud, the county and townships.
Trails in that park could connect to the Wobegon Trail when it’s extended to St. Cloud/Sartell and the Beaver Islands trail system. Actual development of Sauk River Regional Park might be many years away, however, as Sartell is currently trying to develop amenities at Pinecone Central Park, other city parks and possibly – within a year or two – construction of a city resources center.