A new regional park just north of Frazee came a step closer to reality Tuesday when the Becker County Board agreed to let Economic Development Coordinator Guy Fischer apply for state Legacy grant funding to purchase the property.
"I bought this property to help protect it against further development and ensure that it had a fighting chance to become a city, regional or state park," said owner Greg Ness in a letter to Frazee City Administrator Denise Anderson.
"Because this property lies along a beautiful stretch of the Ottertail River - complete with a private covered bridge - it has considerable potential to be a magnet for recreation, economic development, and to serve as a springboard for promoting the various major trails that currently, or will soon, intersect near this location," he added.
By consensus, commissioners on Tuesday authorized Fischer to shape a proposal and proceed with state and federal grant applications, but Commissioner Ben Grimsley said the goal is to have the Minnesota DNR buy it and take ownership of the property.
Frazee asked the county for support in the city's efforts to create a state or regional park on the three parcels owned by Ness. He paid over $700,000 for the land, which is currently assessed at $203,500, Fischer said.
With scenic acreage for trails, picnic areas and camping, "this property has the potential to be developed into a prime recreation area," Anderson said in a letter to commissioners.
The North Country Trail, the Ottertail River state water trail and the Heartland Trail will all meet in Frazee, she said. "The city will be constructing a 10-foot wide multi-use trail that will stretch from the Big Turkey Park to the High school along Highway 87 (Lake Street)," she added. "So as you can see, there is potential here to add further recreational opportunity by creating a state/regional park."
Ness told Frazee officials he will hold onto the land for park purposes for several years, as long as there is momentum towards that goal, but will look at developing the land if it becomes apparent a park is not in the works.