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Cost-sharing offered for dam; public hearing set

A cost-sharing agreement to pay for a dam recertification took a first step Tuesday. 

Crow Wing County commissioners voted to split the estimated $40,000 bill with residents contingent upon their payment share. A May 10 public hearing is planned. 

The dam on a stream off the Mississippi River was designed to control localized flooding in the Black Bear/Miller Lake watershed in Wolford Township. The levee was constructed in 1987. The Army Corps of Engineers turned the levee ownership over to the county.

Larry Nadeau and Pat McDermott  represented the Black Bear Miller Lake Watershed Conservancy Board. Nadeau said their issue was complicated by the loss of significant construction documentation by the Corps that would have been useful in the recertification. 

The spending issue rose when the Federal Emergency Management Agency required the dam be recertified. Without it, homeowners in area will be listed in a flood plain and need to purchase flood insurance and potentially face issues when selling property in the future. 

“I think this would be a tasty carrot for you to dangle,” said Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom.

Nadeau agreed it was tastier than the full bill. Residents in the area pay about $7 per parcel in the watershed district. Nadeau recommended a change to $16 per parcel, noting in the next 10 years that would generate $24,320 from 152 parcels. 

In other business, the board:

Approved submission of a grant application to the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant program with the DNR for funding of the next two phases of the Milford Mine Memorial Park plan. Phase One is completed. 

Kirk Titus, land services supervisor, said the next phases will develop a foot path access to the historic site, interpretive signs, a picnic shelter, bathrooms, fishing platform among other amenities. 

If grant funding is secured for a project cost of $250,000 to $300,000 with a 25 percent match from the county’s dedicated park fund, construction could begin in late summer or early fall. The total project was estimated to cost $360,000 a few years ago. 

“I think this is really important we go forward with this,” said Commissioner Rosemary Franzen. 

A resident from the Milford Mine park area expressed concern the county would be left with the bill. The board said if grant funds were not available commissioners wouldn’t be proceeding. Titus said maintenance costs are expected to be $1,500 a year. 

The board noted the funds for the match and maintenance are coming from park dedicated funds, meaning those dollars can’t be used for something else. The fund is created from timber sales and sales of tax-forfeited land. 

Chairman Paul Thiede said the Milford Mine, where 41 miners lost their lives in 1924, is a historic site that memorializes the mining contribution to the county and once the park is developed it is expected to attract people. Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom added it is important future generations understand that legacy. 

Set a public hearing at 10 a.m. April 12 to get comments related to the future realignment of County Highway 18 in Nisswa. 

Supported the city of Baxter’s Cypress Drive long range plans, including a BNSF Railway crossing. The county reported BNSF has taken the stance that no additional crossings between Highway 371 and Southwest Fourth Street would be allowed without closing two existing crossings. The county highway department reported that is contrary to what was understood by the county and the cities of Brainerd and Baxter. 

“It is also a huge potential stumbling block to future transportation needs within the area, namely creating an alternative route from College Drive to (County Highway) 49 to ease congestion of (Highway) 371 and other north-south connections in the area.”           

Received 32 applicants for the informatiosn technologies position to replace the retiring Jim Eder. Candidates are expected to be interviewed in mid April. The county is also in a market study to evaluate the effect of the recession and the local labor market by surveying area businesses and utilizing the Association of Minnesota Counties. 

Learned tax statements will be mailed next week. Auditor-Treasurer Laureen Borden said a legislative change means those paying taxes of less than $100 are required to pay in full. 

Met in closed session for the employment review of Mark Liedl, land services director. 

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at or 855-5852.