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Park Rapids construction continuing to increase

Park Rapids continues to show gains in project valuations.

Year-end building reports and planning department reports were recently completed and presented to the Park Rapids City Council.

Ron Dick, building official, reported an increased valuation for permits in 2012 compared to 2011. In 2012, 172 permits were issued in Park Rapids with a total building valuation of $4,637,763. In 2011, 176 permits were issued with a total building valuation of $3,107,636.

"The economic situation at a national, state and local level will have varying effects on the amount of building construction for the upcoming year," Dick said in his report.

He noted that private financing through banks, savings and loans and credit unions generally appears available for mortgage lending, although some of those institutions may be hampered in their loan-making activities by federal or state regulations put in place after the financial problems stemming from 2007-08.

Area building officials representing Barnesville, Dilworth, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Perham and Pelican Rapids are indicating slightly higher valuations compared to 2011 as well.

City planner Dan Walker also issued a year-end Planning Department report and noted the higher permit valuation.

"The number and value of commercial remodel projects was up slightly for the year and it continues to be a positive sign that business owners are still investing money in improving existing businesses within the city, even with tight lending," Walker said in the report. "I am optimistic building activity in all sectors should continue on a positive track in the coming year."

Some highlights from 2012 include several commercial projects from an automated potato processing system addition at Lamb Weston-RDO Frozen, restaurant development at the Armory and Social Services renovations.

Residential projects included constructing a new group home for Heartland Homes for about eight residents and remodeling a portion of the old elementary school into 11 additional apartments for Park Avenue Apartments.

Other projects involved re-roofs, small residential and commercial remodeling and some garages, decks and other detached construction.

Projections are always estimates at best, Dick said, but he knows of some projects for 2013.

Construction has begun on the Davita dialysis clinic. It will be a three-story building with a total projected construction value prior to clinic or office fit-up at $1,760,000.

Dick is also waiting to hear if Hubbard County will move forward with courthouse remodeling and if Heritage Living Center will do a remodeling project to update the facility.

"Construction activity in Park Rapids in 2013 will obviously be affected by conditions at the national and state level with respect to how the politicians address the financial situation," Dick said. "Because there are several projects with significant construction costs in the planning stage, it is my opinion that the total permit valuation in 2013 will exceed that of 2012. I would expect the total number of permits to be similar to last year."

Other activity in the Planning Department included work on the Heartland Trail realignment, Red Bridge and Trestle projects, and the Heartland Trailhead projects. Construction could begin in late summer of 2013 or spring of 2014 on the bridge project. The bridge design has been approved by the Park Rapids City Council and is being reviewed by the Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Corps of Engineers.

The city was awarded a Minnesota Department of Transportation Roadside Partnership grant in 2012 to replace trees that did not survive the Highway 34 project or had been lost through other means along Highway 34 and Highway 71. The city replaced 35 trees with the help of volunteers.

City staff and the Urban Forestry Committee also coordinated a spring tree handout project in 2012 to help residents reforest the community after a tornado and windstorm in 2011. Tree saplings, planting materials and instructions were given to city residents at no cost.

Several parks throughout Park Rapids had improvements made in 2012.

A gazebo was installed in Lindquist Park as part of a number of phased improvements within the park, which started in 2010.

Pioneer Park improvements were started in 2012 as well. A water line was dug into the park along with landscaping and plantings. The Park Board and staff will work on Phase II in 2013, which will include decorative fending, lighting and benches.

City staff met with Hubbard County and DNR staff in 2012 to discuss the possibility of a regional multi-use trail between Park Rapids and Itasca State Park. A task force is meeting in 2013 to continue discussions.

City staff has also been working with a task force on plans for Community Destination Way Finding Signage in Park Rapids. The program allows communities to place additional signage along MNDoT right of ways throughout the city to help guide tourists and residents to significant destinations in the community. The first signs could be placed this spring.

In 2013, work will continue on the Red Bridge project, Pioneer Park and updating the zoning city's ordinances.

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