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Pequot Lakes: Work on possible recreational facilities continues

Will Pequot Lakes School District join city in Heart of the Good Life development?

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The Pequot Lakes City Council heard a progress report at its Tuesday, Jan. 7, meeting on potential plans to develop recreational space on land in the Heart of the Good Life development, between the Paul Bunyan Trail and the four-lane Highway 371 south of the city’s business park.

A committee formed to consider development options for a chunk of city-owned land in Pequot Lakes decided to pause its work until it knows whether the Pequot Lakes School District would participate in a possible project.

The Pequot Lakes City Council heard a progress report at its Tuesday, Jan. 7, meeting on potential plans to develop recreational space on land in the Heart of the Good Life development, between the Paul Bunyan Trail and the four-lane Highway 371 south of the city’s business park. The city is promoting public or private development of this area, including recreational, commercial and industrial development.

After seven listening sessions held last fall with the Pequot Lakes community soliciting ideas for the land, and six steering committee meetings held since then to hone in on ideas, organizers reported a scope of work and priority list for a city project have been developed, but not finalized. Capital cost estimates based on the scope are in progress.

The steering committee has also gathered information on operating costs and potential financial impact to the community and surrounding area with increases in sports activities and tournaments.

Kent Koerbitz, of ICS Consulting, and Ryan Buell, chair of the Community Enhancement Project/Heart of the Good Life Steering Committee, gave the verbal update on committee work to the council. Koerbitz said the project scope would change significantly if the school board wants to join in the conversation.

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“Priorities would change if it was a joint city-school project rather than city-only project,” he said.

Koerbitz said 13-18 people have attended each steering committee meeting. Preliminary recommendations from the steering committee include:

  • Reserving the southern 40 acres of the Heart of the Good Life land for outdoor activities or complementary projects.

  • Accessing the land from Patriot Avenue, and contacting the Department of Natural Resources as soon as possible to start work on a permit to cross the Paul Bunyan Trail. Obtaining a permit is estimated to take six to 12 months.

  • Constructing a gravel road and gravel parking lot to keep costs down.

  • Providing electrical service from Patriot Avenue to minimize the cost of installation.

  • Providing a well and septic system for the project. City water and sewer capacity should be reserved for revenue generating customers; adding additional capacity will be expensive.

Koerbitz and Buell shared the following information as well:

  • If land is to be reserved for a motel/hotel, typically 2.5-3 acres are needed for a small hotel and 3.5-5 acres are needed for a hotel with a restaurant/brewery.

  • The steering committee used youth participation numbers provided by Pequot Lakes Youth Sports to estimate the number of households that would be directly impacted by the project, how many tournaments could be held if facilities were available and the resulting impact to the community.

More than 1,000 city/area households participate in sports and activities, they said. Adequate fields/facilities do not exist to host tournaments or in many cases weekend or weeknight games because of demand. Many teams play games at neutral sites.
For example, Pequot Lakes and Staples teams play in Nisswa, meaning those people eat, buy gas and shop in Nisswa. This happens more than 100 times per year.

  • City resident and business impacts were used to prioritize the facility options.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy .

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PineandLakes Echo Journal file photo.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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