Bertram’s next phase?

Currently, Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park has a certain appeal. It is suited largely for those who like to get out and explore nature, via either the parks great trail system, or beautiful lakes.
But at the City Council meeting Monday night, the park moved one step closer to appealing to a whole new type of audience – local sports teams.
Council members voted 4-1 on Monday night, with Tom Perrault dissenting, to accept a grant, authorize an appraisal, and approve a local match in the amount of $327,268.50 for a Phase V acquisition at Bertram, in conjunction with Wright County.
While Phase V may seem like just another piece in the seven-part plan, the 40-acre plot gets a lot more interesting when officials talk about what they would like to do with it. It was noted on Monday night that this particular acquisition represents the first stage in fulfillment of the need for athletic field space within the community. The 40.17 acres purchased in Phase V provides over one third of the proposed land area for the conceptual Bertram Chain of Lakes Athletic Complex, which totals over 110 acres.
Plans for the complex are still in the early stages, and no deadlines have been set. For now, they are still in the acquisition phase of Bertram. But, the city is providing some idea of what the park would look like. It would be located in the northwest corner of Bertram and it would be home to 12 multi-purpose baseball/softball fields, 10 soccer fields, and 1 stadium (tournament field). It would be a huge step in centralizing the local sports scene, as well as keeping Monticello up to date.
“The complex is designed to meet the needs of a growing population for 15-20 years,” said Angela Schumann, community development director.
Council members seemed to be an agreement that this was more than just another small step in the acquisition of the park.
“This is probably one of the key pieces to this entire project,” said Brian Stumpf.
The city was also boosted by a very generous donation from the 2012 DNR Outdoor Recreation Grant program, receiving an award of $369,713, which Schumann called a “lion’s share” of the money that the DNR program was able to give away.
It was more assurance for the city that they are doing a good thing with this project.
“We’ve had plenty of legislators out there,” said Mayor Clint Herbst. “Every one of them put it at the top of their list. I think they appreciate that we’re working hard on it.”
While the city is getting help to fund the acquisition, from both the state and the county, they also realize they will need to find more money from within to make this dream of an athletic complex become a reality.
“We’ll be working over the winter as to how we’re going to fund to put these fields out there,” said Herbst.
City Administrator Jeff O’Neill echoes that the city now needs to get more serious about both the design and the cost of the complex. He has been around long enough to know that nothing is a done deal until it is just that, done. But, like the council members, O’Neill recognizes the step on Monday night as another important piece.
“It’s a little bit of the flower unfolding,” said O’Neill.
In other business:
• The board heard a pre-meeting update from the Monticello Community Center on the process of their ongoing improvements and expansions project. According to O’Neill, workers at the MCC discovered condensation in the roof during the removal of siding and looking at structures.
“[There is] a good chance that we’ll need to do something to replace the roof,” said O’Neill.
While he admits that it’s not exactly what they were hoping to find, he said it’s also not a terribly shocking discovery. The roof is only two years away from the end of its warranty life, meaning it’s lasted nearly as long as it’s expected too. And, while they were surprised by the discovery, O’Neill said the center had contingency plans built into their project to allow them to handle these types of discoveries.
“It may require relatively inexpensive repair, or total replacement,” said O’Neill. “Either way, it would come in well within the contingency budget.”
O’Neill said that he expects a decision to be made in the next couple of days on how extensive the repair will need to be. At that time, more data on costs, and how this will affect the length of the pool closure and rest of the community center will be available.
• Also before the meeting, council agreed to a purchase Letter of Intent with the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association. It’s still in the early stages, but a project that has been discussed for some time, is finally being made public. MYSA is looking to purchase land to build its state headquarters and at least eight soccer fields on, and Monticello is one of their top choices. The land they are looking at is adjacent to the northwest corner of Bertram, and is currently being used by the city to apply biosolids that come from the wastewater treatment plant. With that use set to cease, the city was ready to sell, and now they hope they’ve found a buyer. The city has priced the 125-acre piece of land at $312,500 for MYSA. Herbst and O’Neill they could get more for the land immediately, but the return on investment they would see if MYSA does decide to purchase the land would be huge.
“This would be attracting new dollars to the community,” said Herbst. “I know we could have sold it for more, but it’s not the same impact on the community.”
MYSA is looking for currently idle city-owned land that they can turn into a year-round destination for State, Regional, and National events.
Now that the Letter of Intent to Purchase as been accepted, MYSA will take the proposal back to their membership for a vote – expected to happen at the end of August. If it passes there, it will go through a full-fledged review in Monticello. At that point, details of the complex would begin to come to light.
• The council voted 4-1 to buy 4×6 American flags and fly them at 22 feet on streetlight poles on State Highway 25. Council had hoped to fly the flags lower, but Public Works Director Bob Paschke researched for the city and found restrictions limited them from having the flag flying any lower than 22 feet over that particular section of road. The plan now is to purchase the flags and give them a trial run at that height to see if they will still serve a purpose there, or if they will be too high for people to notice.