From the National Loon Center to the Greater Crosslake Area Foundation. From water quality updates to housing initiatives to a traffic study. From the comprehensive plan to the community school to connectivity in Crosslake.

These topics and more were discussed Thursday, Aug. 15, at Zorbaz on Cross Lake, where around 100 people gathered for a community update with the theme “#On A Roll” because that’s exactly what Crosslake is - on a roll.

City and Crosslakers representatives gave updates on projects and issues. The Crosslakers is a group that formed after the Minnesota Design Team visited in 2016 to carry out initiatives.

Following is a summary of topics addressed.

Connectivity

Pat Netko, chair of the Crosslakers connectivity work group, talked about the flower baskets on the city bridges with a solar watering system and the hope to expand the flower project; uniform signage around town, including two new “Welcome to Crosslake” signs, three vertical banners that will go on light poles and way-finding signs, all with the same theme of blue oars.

Netko said the city included $10,000 in its budget for these projects, and the Crosslakers appreciate the partnership with the city.

State of the city

Mayor Dave Nevin shared major projects the city is undertaking: groundbreaking for the new city administration/police building in a month; sewer project from city hall to County Road 16; sewer expansion to the new city hall building; new pickleball and basketball courts at the community center; rebuilding the rock dam on Little Pine Lake; stormwater project on County Road 66 in Manhattan Beach; call for more bike trails in town; the loon center and parking for increased traffic.

“How are we going to pay for all this?” Nevin asked, saying assessments will help pay for road and sewer projects so citizens should know assessment hearings will be held.

Nevin also said the city is considering a city sales tax to generate a half million dollars a year. Around 70% of the tax would come from people who don’t live in Crosslake but who visit and use services, he said.

The mayor addressed VRBOs, saying the city is trying to identify and legitimize these “vacation rental by owner” homes to protect neighbors, not to shut them down.

“There are 50 to 100 people very actively involved in Crosslake and Crosslake’s future. Your vote does matter. Get involved,” Nevin said, noting there are two public forum opportunities at the monthly city council meetings. “Get up and speak your mind. We do listen to you.”

Traffic study

Dave Reece with Widseth Smith Nolting engineering firm touched on a traffic study being done from bridge to bridge in Crosslake. The study will identify needs for the future and look at the need for sidewalks, trails, parking and safe pedestrian crossings.

Once complete in the next month, WSN will make a recommendation for improvements and help determine where to find funding for those improvements.

Water quality

Jeff Laurel, with the Crosslakers water quality work group, said enhancing Crosslake’s unique ecology was the No. 1 objective that came from the Minnesota Design Team’s visit. He summarized the four main areas that group is working on: County Road 66 and Manhattan Point Boulevard storm sewer runoff project to start in September; sanitary sewer study to take place in spring; additional Highway 66 runoff projects; and work on the Northern Lakes Initiative, a lakes education center in conjunction with the loon center relating to loons and their habitat.

Housing

Housing was among the top five issues the Minnesota Design Team identified. Council member John Andrews said the city is participating in a housing study of 16 Crow Wing County cities with results expected by early 2020.

Jeff Ude, executive director of Whitefish at the Lakes senior housing complex being built behind Ace Hardware, talked about that 86-unit building with 21 memory care units and 65 integrated independent and assisted living units.

National Loon Center

Leah Heggerston provided a loon center update, saying a grant was signed to receive $4 million from the Minnesota State Lottery. The loon center signed a lease with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - a $2.6 million in-kind contribution - for a 25-year no-fee lease; signed an agreement with the Brainerd/Crosslake Chamber of Commerce to operate and maintain the loon center; and signed an agreement for the city to be the center’s fiscal agent.

Taxpayer dollars will not fund the loon center, she said, noting the loon center has received $1 million in private, business and in-kind contributions. The loon center has launched a capital campaign for a $6 million match to build the facility.

Greater Crosslake Area Foundation

Mike Schweiters said this foundation’s mission is to provide resources that promote reasonable growth in Crosslake. An endowment fund was established, and earnings will be invested in projects. The foundation has more than $50,000 in donations and pledges, and in its first year awarded $5,000 in grants for pickleball courts and the Chris Monroe Memorial.

This group is looking for board members.

Train museum

The train museum is nearly complete enough to start moving displays in and to open to the public with trains running again. The facility was rebuilt across the street from Zorbaz after fire destroyed the Pineberry Plaza last year.