February 2013 Meeting

This was my first meeting chair in Dean Johnston's absence, so that was fun. Our primary item of business was an amendment to the Regional Parks Policy Plan adding "Kingswood Special Recreation Feature" in the Three Rivers Park District. This is a property that was formerly a church camp and has been offered for sale to the park district. Adding the feature to our policy plan is the first step before any acquisition and development could occur. The intention would be to use this for ecological education programs, some involving the adjacent lake which has the best water quality in Hennepin County. The parcel also lies along the planned corridor for a regional trail out there. The lake is 65 acres (pretty small), with a maximum depth of 76 feet, which means it can support dual warm-water and cold-water fisheries. There are several structures on the property currently, but most of these are old and would be removed. It has not yet been decided whether the existing campground (on the east side of the lake, separate from most of the property) would be retained for that use - we'll see that again later in a development master plan proposal. Commissioner Wasley moved and the commission passed that we recommend the Metropolitan Council conduct a public hearing for this addition on April 15th, with the record staying open for comment submission until April 25th. The commission will then see this item again after the public hearing process is completed.

While not an action item, at this meeting we also got a presentation from Three Rivers Park District and Scott County about how they have been collaborating over the last several years (decades, really) for running parks in a more efficient way. Essentially what it boils down to is that Scott County, being a relatively small county yet, does not have a dedicated parks department, and thus lacks some of the resource management and educational expertise that Three Rivers can offer. Meanwhile, Scott County does have a highway department and sheriff's department, which Three Rivers does not, not being a county. So, Scott County can provide road and trail construction work and more regular safety patrols, while Three Rivers can offer management. The end result is that residents of Scott County are able to enjoy more parks and more park programming than would otherwise be available, at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. We may see other such partnerships growing elsewhere in the metro and state as other entities look to become more efficient, so this is an interesting model.

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