The Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park Advisory Council’s first meeting of the new year included an important land acquisition funding and grant update.
Wright County Parks Administrator Marc Mattice and Monticello Community Development Director Angela Schumann addressed the project’s Phase 4 acquisition time frame and recapped park and trail legacy grant and non-metro regional park grant progress to-date at a Jan. 4 meeting.
Wright County and the City of Monticello have partnered in an effort to acquire 1,200 acres of open space in Wright County, known as the Bertram Chain of Lakes.
The city and county partnership was formed with the goal of improving the community’s quality of life by preserving this irreplaceable natural area and creating a regional park for public enjoyment and recreation.
The 1,200 acres within the Bertram Chain of Lakes property boundary includes four lakes, acres of undisturbed shoreline, natural habitat and oak forest.
The property is located directly west of the city limits of Monticello along County Road 39 and 90th Street. The park now features 496 acres.
In January 2012, the partnership was awarded an $833,000 grant from the Minnesota Parks and Trials Legacy Fund for the continued acquisition of this significant resource. This funding will be used for a Phase 4 purchase, that includes the south and west shorelines of Bertram Lake.
During the Wright County Board of Commissioner’s Dec. 11 meeting, Mattice requested and received county board signatures on two documents relating to the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park.
The first was a purchase agreement for the Phase 4 acquisition and the second document was an amended, restated shared use agreement. These agreements are between Wright County, the city of Monticello, and the YMCA Twin Cities, which continues to use the park.
“Phase 4 is our most time-sensitive [acquisition],” Mattice said earlier this week. “It’s contiguous land. It’s the whole sound end of Bertram Lake and the west shoreline. It’s a nice piece of property, and will help us preserve the shoreline from development.”
Phase 4 features more than 4,000 feet of shoreline, he said.
According to Mattice, the county and city’s goal will continue to work with the YMCA so day camp activities can be offered at the park during the summer.
Since the purchase agreement and shared use agreement have been completed and adopted by the Wright County Board of Commissioners for the Phase 4 acquisition of Parcels 9, 10, and 12, Schumann said this week the council will be asked to consider action on the same documents at its Jan. 14 meeting.
“Council members have already approved the match; they just need to approve the purchase documents,” she said, adding the city council previously approved the $317,000 match for Phase 5, the 40.17-acre parcel that comprises the top corner of the athletic complex area. According to Schumann, the Wright County Board of Commissioners approved that match in December.
“We are well over halfway with the grants we’ve received from the state,” she said.
Parcels 9, 10, and 12, are scheduled to close later this winter or early this spring, she said.
“Then, we have the match for Parcel 1 in Phase 5, and that’s already secured, and we need to start working on the appraisal documents.”
Schumann said Wright County and city are awaiting word on a grant for other remaining parcels on the Bertram Chain of Lakes property acquisition map, and may be able to combine appraisal services for efficiency and cost savings.
The athletic complex at Bertram fulfills an existing yet pressing need for play fields in the community, Schumann said.
“It’s a regional athletic complex that will serve population growth over the next 15 to 20 years,” she said.
“We’ve heard from other communities that they are interested in those fields. Over the next year to two years, we’ll be talking with the council about fine-tuning the complex detail planning. We have a concept, but we have to start talking about the phasing, the long-term capital and maintenance costs and how will we phase and market the park.”
She added: “That’s all part of the master planning complex for the park.”
Mattice said the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park received grant funding notices for Phase 6 on Dec. 30.
There was $7.5 million available statewide from the state’s park and trails legacy fund; half of $7.5 million was for regional trails and the other half for regional parks.
According to Mattice, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received $46.9 million in grant requests. The Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park received just over $1.5 million.
“The board was pretty excited about that last Friday,” Mattice said.
“We also received non-metro, regional park funding as well; there was more than $3 million in funding requested and $333,333 available, and we got it all. I will be working to bring the match for that to the county board during the next couple of months.”
The Phase 6 funding will be used to buy the north end of Bertram Lake, including the beach.
“I think that’s what the public really wants to see,” he said.
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