by Joni Astrup
Bailey Point Nature Preserve, Elk River’s newest park, is officially open.
Mayor John Dietz and Musz Bailey, accompanied by her son Tim, cut the ribbon during a ceremony Aug. 14 at the park entrance. The park is located at 1 Morton Ave., west of downtown at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi rivers.
“This is a great day for the city,” Dietz said. “This is just a jewel of a piece of property.”
The park will be left largely in its natural state, offering walking trails and a fishing area.
About a dozen members of the Bailey family were on hand for the park’s opening.
The Baileys owned the point for many years. The family was involved in the founding and operation of Cretex in Elk River.
“They were very active in the community for many, many, many years so I think it’s very appropriate that we name this Bailey Point Nature Preserve,” Dietz said.
John Bailey Jr. said the Elk River community has been wonderful to the Bailey family and they will enjoy the park for generations to come.
“It’s almost like a gift to the family,” Bailey said.
City Administrator Cal Portner and Elk River Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Dave Anderson also spoke.
“Standing here, doing this, has been a dream of mine for I can’t tell you how long,” Anderson said.
He called Bailey Point a “fabulous piece of property.”
He thanked John and Nancy Babcock, who had owned Bailey Point since 2003 and sold it to the city last year, for making the park a reality.
Anderson also noted that there has been a mayor, city council and city staff in place willing to seize the opportunity to acquire the land when it was available. “In another day and another time, this opportunity may have been missed out on,” he said.
There also was an element of luck, Anderson said. He described how he got a call one day from the city’s former parks and recreation director, Bill Maertz, who had moved on to a job in California. Maertz had been notified by a former colleague in Ramsey, telling him about the possibility of Minnesota Land Trust money being available for purchases such as Bailey Point.
That’s really what helped turn the tide, Anderson said, spurring negotiations and making the park happen.
Both he and the mayor recognized the volunteers, many from the neighborhood, who have put in hundreds of hours at the park since the city purchased it. Anderson said they took down the white wooden fence, removed miles of barbed wire and hundred of fence posts and installed new fencing.
Old entrance gates were sandblasted by Elk River Machine, repainted and reinstalled at the park.
“It’s this effort of community that is going to continue to make this great,” Anderson said.