Council erases proposed road alignments through parks

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

Two controversial proposed future road alignments running through two Elk River parks have been deleted from the city’s 137-page draft comprehensive plan.

The cover of the draft 2014 Elk River Comprehensive Plan.
The cover of the 137-page draft 2014 Elk River Comprehensive Plan.

The Elk River City Council agreed Monday to erase the alignments. The Elk River Parks and Recreation Commission had opposed them, and the issue drew a crowd to Monday’s City Council meeting.

One of the proposed road alignments ran through Woodland Trails Park, located at 20135 Elk Lake Road, and the other through Camp Cozy Park, located at 18800 Waco St.

Jeremy Barnhart, Elk River’s community operations and development deputy director, had told the council that they weren’t advocating that a road be put through park land now. Rather, he said the proposed alignments represent the need for additional study to identify the costs, benefits and impacts so the city could make an informed decision.

Monday’s meeting wasn’t the first time the council heard opposition to the idea.

Dave Anderson of the city’s parks commission had publicly objected to the proposed road alignment through Woodland Trails at a City Council meeting earlier this year. Council members agreed with his concerns then and directed their staff to delete the alignment through Woodland Trails Park. The council reaffirmed that desire at Monday’s meeting.

Early in the discussion, Mayor John Dietz told the crowd that council members had all agreed that they don’t want a road through Woodland Trails Park. The council has also recommended that Sherburne County take the alignment out of its transportation plan.

The council made a motion to that effect Monday and it passed 4-0.

“There we go. No road through the park,” Dietz told the crowd.

The audience broke out in applause.

The proposed road alignment through Camp Cozy was addressed next.

Mary Ernhart described Camp Cozy as an “absolute gem.”

“To have an opportunity to experience what native prairies looked like before man destroyed them all in the name of progress is priceless,” she said.

Anderson, the park commissioner, pointed out that there’s a half mile of floodplain at Camp Cozy that could prove costly to build a road over. A road there also would impact the neighborhood and nature, he said.

It was the council’s consensus to remove the Camp Cozy road alignment.

In other comprehensive plan issues:

Youth Athletic Complex expansion: The council agreed that a 120-acre piece of city-owned land north of the Youth Athletic Complex at 9850 165th Ave. should be designated as future industrial property. The parks commission hoped it could be used to expand YAC in the future. Parks are allowed under an industrial designation, however, and it was the consensus of the council to designate the land use industrial with the caveat that YAC could still possibly be expanded.

School Street alignment: Cretex objected to a proposed future road alignment extending School Street west through its property near Highway 10 and Proctor Avenue. The council left that road alignment in the proposed plan, but agreed to add narrative to explain it. City Attorney Peter Beck said the alignment is more of a statement that if Cretex ever left or requested a road through there, that is generally where it would go. “Realistically, there’s no possibility a road would ever be put through there over their objections,” Beck said.

Saving a forest: The council agreed to delineate in the comprehensive plan a high quality forest that the parks commission would like to preserve. The forest is north of County Road 33 near the Great Northern Trail, in a gravel mining area.

The draft 2014 comprehensive plan, an update of the 2004 plan, will come to the City Council for final approval at a later date. To see the draft plan, click here.