County parks transforming into gems

Members of the Isanti County Board and additional county employees enjoyed a sunny afternoon getting a personal tour of three county parks from Parks Director Barry Wendorf on Oct. 5 following the board’s regular meeting.

The Vegsund Family Park located northwest of Stanchfield was the first stop of the tour—very fitting since several projects have been recently completed at the newer park through Legacy grants Wendorf procured from the state. A beautiful log picnic shelter similar to the one at the Anderson Family Park was constructed this summer, resting at the end of a new road and parking lot.

Walking down a handicapped-accessible road toward the bank of Lake Seventeen, the touring party checked out the only fishing pier in the county which juts out from a stair path leading back up to the picnic shelter. Wendorf explained the lake is 26-feet deep with a variety of panfish and northern pike available for fishing. Lake Seventeen is connected to the Snake River via Rice Creek, continued Wendorf, and it is spring-fed. Solar-powered lights which run four hours after sunset are set both on the staircase and at the picnic shelter.

There are 2.5 miles of trails at Vegsund Family Park, including one which cuts along the top of an esker overlooking the lake. An Indian burial mound is nestled close to an apple tree near the shore of Lake Seventeen.

Future projects at the park, Wendorf continued, are adding three grills at the shelter and six benches total along the hiking trails, along with rain gardens. A sledding hill will be cleared near the shelter that will allow sledders to reach all the way to the lake after it’s frozen. Another dose of buckthorn management will help clear the park of that invasive species this autumn. Down the road, a disc golf course and interpretative center are goals for Vegsund.

“Vegsund Park is turning out exactly how I envisioned a good park should be,” spoke Wendorf.

Hiking trails were improved over summer 2011 at Vegsund Family Park, including this stretch which runs atop a wooded esker on the park’s highest land.

The tour continued at the Irving & John Anderson Family Park in the southeast corner of the county (spotlighted in the Sept. 28 NEWS) and to Wayside County Park—the county’s original park off Co. Rd. 10 southwest of Isanti. Wendorf has remodeling plans for Wayside Park  in his sights for the near future.

“If we’re able to get the funding I applied for Wayside, we would like to renovate the parking lot and add a small playground out there,” he said. “I would like to replace the old concrete picnic tables with new ones and add park benches throughout the hiking trails. Updating the grills and adding a bulletin board with a map of the park are also in the plans.”


Eminent Domain a possible

direction for Co. Rd. 9 project

At the Oct. 5 County Board meeting, Highway Engineer Richard Heilman submitted a resolution which the board approved to authorize the acquisition of lands by Eminent Domain for next year’s widening of Co. Rd. 9 between Co. Rds. 45 and 18. Employing the resolution will help keep the county on the timeline for the $5.5 million in federal funding received for the road project, added Heilman.

Heilman explained that of the 57 parcels along the project area, he is down to eight individuals who have not given signatures of agreement yet. Four of those parcels are wrapped in estate handling, and Heilman said three or four other parcels are expected to not be signed off for agreement, hence the need for Eminent Domain.

In other action, the board:

• Approved the following personnel decisions: Hiring Kasey Gilley as a Deputy Auditor-Treasurer I;  Terminating a child care contract with Pine Tech and approving hiring a Family Services position which will replace that work in-house, a move which could save the county approximately $37,000/year, projected Family Services Director Penny Messer.

• Approved the Sheriff Office’s request for purchasing 12 800mhz radios and a secondary fire paging base for the county jail. Funds for the purchases were available through grant reimbursements saved from other portions of the 800mhz conversion.

• Approved the purchase of a new jail transport vehicle after the old one was totaled. Insurance covered $27,000 of the $32,000 replacement cost, with the additional $5,000 coming from the jail’s canteen fund.

Next County Board meeting: Wednesday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.

– Story & photos by Greg Hunt