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Heartland Trail improvements could be done with grant funds

The Park Rapids City Council has purchased a vacant lot at the head of the Heartland Trail. It is applying for grants that could help turn it into a parking lot. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The Park Rapids City Council gave its blessing last week to move forward on applications for two grants for Heartland Trail improvements.

At its January meeting, the council agreed to purchase a vacant lot at Beach Street and Washington Avenue near Red Bridge Park.

The city purchased the property for $52,000 plus closing costs, which are estimated to be approximately $3,000. Funding will come from the Parks funds ($15,000), Real Estate Acquisition Fund ($26,000) and liquor store reserves ($14,000).

City planner Dan Walker said the property is an integral part of three planning documents for the city. It has been identified in the RDG Downtown Plan, the Parks and Trails Plan and the city's Comprehensive Plan as an important piece in the long term planning of Park Rapids.

"It just got included in the DNR's Heartland Trail master plan as an important piece," Walker said about purchasing the property. "This isn't coming out of general fund money. The majority of the purchase is coming from park land dedication money that is for acquisition and enhancement of our parks."

The primary interest of the city is to make a public parking lot out of the property. City engineer Jon Olson estimated it would cost between $80,000 and $100,000 to prepare the lot for parking.

If the federal and state grants were awarded, they would cover these improvements.

Walker said the city should receive notice about the grants by June. If the grants were awarded the deadline to complete the project would be June 30, 2013.

In other business, the council:

n Received an update on the city's liability insurance. The League of Minnesota Cities insurance renewal is $152,772. The Park Rapids Youth Hockey Association reimburses the city for the hockey arena for the amount of $8,698. The county reimburses the city for the skateboard park for the amount of $710.

n Approved purchasing a new street sweeper for $163,157 from McQueen Equipment. The street sweeper has been on the city's Capital Improvement Plan for several years. It will replace a 1997 vacuum sweeper.

Public Works director Scott Burlingame said this piece of equipment will be an improvement and will save time. The city of Park Rapids contracts with Nevis to sweep its streets. It also sweeps the state highways through town.

n Tabled a fire engine bid presented by Fire Chief Donn Hoffman. He received two quotes but one of the quotes did not include several items.

He recommended going with Heiman Fire Equipment with a quote of $379,983. The council hadn't received a copy of the quotes or the itemized list showing what was missing on one of the quotes by the time of the meeting.

City administrator Bill Smith recommended the council table the item until it received the documentation. The fire truck will replace a 1981 truck.

n Tabled an item relating to the installation of granite inlays on Main Avenue. The finance committee met to review quotes for the purchase and installation but needed more information before making a recommendation on a contractor.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561