To be or not to be: Bailey Point Nature Preserve

by Jim Boyle


Elk River’s newest parkland commonly known as Bailey Point is about to have an official name.

Eagles nest at Bailey Point.
Eagles nest at Bailey Point.

The Elk River Park and Recreation Commission voted 4-1-1 on May 6 to name the park on the Elk and Mississippi rivers Bailey Point Nature Preserve.

The group also believes when the park opens in late June there should be a designated area along the parcel’s shoreline for fishing.

The Elk River City Council will get the final say on the name and other matters at its regular meeting Monday.

The name Bailey Point Park Nature Preserve was suggested by Elk River Park and Recreation Commission Chairman Dave Anderson after the seven-member advisory body wrestled with a push by one commissioner to delay a vote until the public had a chance to participate in the naming process.

City staff and a majority of the commissioners said enough has been done already to involve the public in the naming process, and they believed it was time to move ahead with the naming.

Park and Recreation Director Michael Hecker says the acquisition of the parkland has been in the news for months, and anyone in the community with a desire to weigh in has had ample opportunity.

The park commission held off last month on naming the park and a decision about including a place for fishing from shore until there was a tour of the park and there was a public notice in the paper about the park being named.

Commissioner Mike Niziolek says the only problem with all that is the park had been given an assumed name of Bailey Point in the commission’s new park naming policy and the public was never really invited to be part of the naming process.

The names of two city parks — Woodland Trails and Hillside Park — were decided in a contest open to the community.

“I’d like to encourage the public to participate in this naming process, and see if Bailey Point does rise to be the name of this parcel,” Niziolek said. “I want to make certain we don’t hurt people’s feelings. We have acquired park properties that we didn’t name after people.”

Niziolek said the process would draw greater attention to the park, history would surface and it would be good for the community as a whole.

Commissioner Jim Nystrom said he recalled an effort to involve the public in the naming a county park with little luck. He said most of the suggested names came from school projects.

Nystrom said this is the most historic piece of land the city has had in its hands, noting the Elk and Mississippi rivers were acknowledged in maps created in 1680 that were used by Father Hennepin.

“Rather than a contemporary name we should have a historic name,” Nystrom said, noting it should key in on the long history and discovery time of European explorers.

He abstained so as to not have to vote against the good Bailey name, but rather in opposition to not considering something more representative of the land’s significance in history.

Others felt enough had been done to solicit the public’s opinion, and felt a name like Bailey Point Park Preserve or Bailey Point Nature Preserve  was the right way to go.

“I like the name Bailey Point,” said Commissioner Guenther Sagan. “It rolls off the tongue. I haven’t heard any better (suggested) names. My opinion is we keep it.”

It was suggested by Commissioner Mark Ahlness that someone could put in an application to rename any park at any time. Niziolek warned that could be hurtful.

Anderson helped spur the commission to make a decision, saying that an effort had been made to solicit the public’s feedback and they got some.

Patricia (Bailey) Miller, a Mound woman who grew up in the Bailey family in Elk River, told the commision she liked the name Bailey Point Nature Preserve.

“I think it clarifies what the park is,” she said. “I that it’s a great idea. I like it.”

Kelly Prusak of Elk River said  during the meeting she thinks the commission has a share of the public that cares about this matter at the meeting.

“When you put it in the newspaper and asked for public response, those of us who want to have input and hold this land dear to our hearts are here and we do care,” she said.