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Red Bridge Park changes coming

Big changes are on the horizon for Red Bridge Park along the Fish Hook River.

The city has received $137,000 in grant funding to develop a trailhead facility, parking lot and kiosk at the park.

The Heartland Trail master plan shows the trail heading west through Red Bridge Park and along Beach Road with the final destination being Moorhead. Some work will also be done along Beach Road to accommodate the trail running along the road.

"I met with some of the adjacent property owners to get some feedback and it was very positive," said city planner Dan Walker. "They're all very supportive of the project."

Walker briefed the Park Rapids Park Board on the project Monday night.

He also has been visiting with Department of Natural Resources staff on replacement of the Red Bridge that crosses Fish Hook River between Heartland Park and Red Bridge Park.

The existing Red Bridge is 60 feet long and the new bridge is proposed to be 180 feet, Walker said.

"It would start in the same location on the Red Bridge Park side and be longer on the Heartland Park side," he said. "It will be the same height as the existing bridge."

Options are also being discussed for the trestle bridge, which has been deemed unsafe and has a 1,500-pound weight limit.

"The DNR master plan shows the Heartland Trail crossing the Red Bridge instead of the trestle bridge," Walker said.

Right now, the state owns the trestle bridge. There has been some discussion of the DNR giving the bridge to the city or county. If that happens, the bridge would need to be torn down or rehabilitated, Walker said. No funding is available to replace or repair the bridge.

The DNR is seeking input on plans for the Red Bridge. A joint city/DNR hosted open house is being planned for mid-October to look at plans for the park. At that point the public will be able to see the plans and give input.

In addition, the stone building at Red Bridge Park is undergoing a study. The research has been done and a report will be presented in the near future.

In other business, the Park Board discussed the Pioneer Park landscaping. The first phase of construction is nearly completed in the downtown park.

Next steps include adding a fence along the alley side of the park, adding benches and a small shelter for performances toward the Main Avenue side.

A bench is being donated in memory of Cora Boyer, a long-time Park Rapids area resident who died earlier this year at 100 years old. Other families who are interested in donating a bench for the park are asked to contact City Hall.

Anna Erickson writes for the Park Rapids Enterprise.