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County looks at land donation with recreational possibilities

By Jean Ruzicka

Property owners on Garfield Lake in Hart Lake Township came before the Hubbard County Board offering to donate 3.4 acres with 200 feet of sandy lakeshore as a public park if the township road is rerouted.

Jed Shaw and Joe Arndt of Walker are proposing that the land on the northeast side of the lake, which they own, be used for recreational purposes, “benefitting the public.”

In return, the county and township would allow rerouting of Pickerel Road so it would no longer run in front of the residential lots, the cost of which Shaw and Arndt have agreed to absorb, as well as legal fees.

This has met approval from Hubbard County Parks and Recreation. It is contingent on authorization for road construction by the Soil and Water Conservation District.

“It’s one of the nicest swimming beaches in the area,” Commissioner Cal Johannsen said, joking about skipping school (a few years ago) to head there.

The parking lot would have to be located 100 feet back from the high water mark, Environmental Services officer Eric Buitenwerf reminded Shaw and Arndt, to which they agreed.

Ron Ray, who lives on nearby Orchard Drive, said he’s been involved in the discussion, which has been “extremely controversial, the issue being the use of the beach by the public.” Through the years, with no trash disposal, the property has “become an eyesore,” he told commissioners.

“Beach closure is a big issue,” he said. “There needs to be a compromise. The public wants to keep the beach open. I don’t think the rerouting of the road is a problem,” Ray said. “I’m in favor of what they’re doing.”

“The intention is to give the lot (as a public swimming beach) if Hubbard County is willing to take it on,” Johannsen said. “It’s up to Hart Lake Township to vacate the road. If this pans out, is the county willing to take it on, and use it as a public swimming beach?” he questioned. “It sounds like a legitimate plan with merit if we can resolve the issues.”

“I want to hear from the township and other entities,” Commissioner Matt Dotta said.

“You as a board accepting the property puts on no pressure,” Shaw said. “It’s just a first step.”

“This is an opportunity to clean up a mess,” Commissioner Vern Massie said, indicating he was aware of the trash problems at the site.

Shaw estimated the value of the lots would increase by 30 percent if the road was relocated.

“Hart Lake and SWCD could squash it. Are we willing to take it on as a park?” Johannsen asked.

The board agreed to table action, pending further review.

In other action, the board:

n Learned notices have been sent on the county’s decision to implement a .5 percent transit and use sales tax, which will begin July 1.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue will administer the tax that will fund projects in the county’s five-year County State Aid Highway and County Road construction program.

n Learned 403,000 trees were recently planted on 532 acres on 19 sites in Hubbard County.

n Reported road restrictions were lifted May 8.

n Approved hiring Craig Kritzeck as a full-time deputy for the sheriff’s department at step three, based on years of experience, as recommended by sheriff Cory Aukes.

Kritzeck is a former Nevis police chief and also worked in Park Rapids, holding 10 years’ experience in law enforcement. He’s currently working in Cold Springs.

Johannsen indicated the person should start at step one while on probation. But Massie moved to hire him at step three, “based on his knowledge of the area.”

n Approved auditor-treasurer Kay Rave as the driver’s license agent.

n Approved a bid of $477,000 from Traffic Marking Services of Maple Lake for ground-in, wet-reflective edge striping.

n Approved the sale of a single axle snow plow truck to Levi Holsapple of Akeley for $8,250.

n Approved a quote of $23,262 from F-M Forklift of Fargo for the purchase of a recycling forklift.

n Approved the low quote of $1,142 from Engel Sign Co., Park Rapids for sweeping and striping the parking lots at the Heartland Park.

n Rescinded the porta-potty quote accepted in April based on deadline confusion, authorizing a “do over.”

n Approved a transfer of lease for tax forfeited land from Andrew Williams to Jack Tenney and Scott Fowler, contingent on re-inspection of the property and an agreement there will be no increase in structure size. The inspection found the site needs to be cleaned and maintained and garbage and debris removed.

n Approved a four-year appointment of Dave Olsonawkski as county highway engineer.

n Approved a purchase of service (POS) agreement with Rosemary Mills at $32 per hour for detention center nursing services.

n Accepted a federal boating supplemental grant of $6,375 for additional patrol hours on area lakes.

n Approved a POS with Kay Dent for guardianship/ conservatorship services.

n Scheduled a public hearing to address an amendment to the subdivision ordinance for 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, June 2.

n Approved a resolution recommending PrimeWest Health be named as the county’s managed care provider.

n Approved a resolution in support of the eight-county Mississippi Headwaters Board, which was established “to identify and protect the natural, cultural scenic, scientific and recreational values” of the river’s first 400 miles.

“This affects us very little,” Johannsen said of the river’s nominal miles in the northwest tier of the county.

The river’s length is 2,350 miles from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi River Watershed, however, is the fourth largest in the world, extending from the Allegheny Mountains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west. The watershed includes all or parts of 31 states and two Canadian provinces. The watershed measures approximately 1.2 million square miles, covering about 40 percent of the lower 48 states.

n Approved overtime for the finance department May 11-15, as needed, for completion of property tax collection.

n Closed the meeting to discuss union strategy.