System Grows By 14 Acres On Unanimous Board Vote

The following article by Cristof Traudes was published in the May 31, 2010 issue of the Southwest Journal:

SYSTEM GROWS BY 14 ACRES ON UNANIMOUS BOARD VOTE

On a 9–0 vote, the Park Board approved purchasing most of a Mississippi River-bordering lumberyard long owned by the Scherer Bros. Lumber Company. The 14-acre site, which borders Boom Island and B.F. Nelson Park, adds to a string of land the board wants to redevelop into a Northeast destination park.

The purchased land ended up being somewhat smaller than originally proposed. Portions deemed non-essential for parks were cut out, Planning Director Judd Rietkerk said. That took the total price tag down to about $8 million.

The board already made a $400,000 earnest money down payment in December.

To cover the remaining cost, the board is receiving a $1.7 million grant from the Metropolitan Council. The Park Board also successfully lobbied the Legislature to allow the use of money commonly designated for parks and trails.

Several commissioners said they were shuddering at the price tag, but they also said the site’s potential trumped their hesitations. President John Erwin said it had been 30 years since the land was last up for sale.

“We really want this, and I’m glad we have this opportunity,” said Northeast Commissioner Liz Wielinski, who later voted with “a resounding yes.”