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Baxter prepares for Fourth of July

BAXTER — Parking and mowing questions for the Fourth of July celebration in Baxter were before the city council Tuesday.

Brainerd Community Action is expected to handle the event, but the city had questions about preparation, namely mowing along the parade route.

Trevor Walter, public works director, asked if the council wanted the parade route right-of-ways mowed more than once to be more like a yard in appearance. Without a change, the city plan would be to mow the edge of the property, about 20 feet behind the curb, along Clearwater Road and Golf Course Drive once between now and the Fourth of July.

“This is the time for Baxter to shine,” said Council member Jim Klein, noting how many people the event will attract. “If we present a nice appearance it’s going to go along ways.”

The former Pine Meadows Golf Course land is now back in the hands of a bank and as it is private property Gordon Heitke, city administrator, said the city doesn’t have the right to go in there and mow it without the consent of the property owner. The city now mows a limited area and assesses that cost back to the property owner. Klein was concerned the right-of-way wouldn’t be large enough to handle the anticipated crowds and questioned if people would want to put their lawn chairs in the tall grass. Mayor Darrel Olson noted the sheer size of the former golf course’s interior and noted the costs of mowing a larger expanse.

“That’s a farm going on there,” Olson said looking at a map of the site.

Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted, who will be the city’s point person for the Fourth of July parade and event, said they’ll continue to speak with the bank and their decisions will guide how they will be able to work with the crowd at the site. Council member Mark Cross said the event can be easily run using the road right of way.

“I see our role mainly as kind of secondary to Community Action that day,” Exsted said. “They’ll take care of a majority of it.”

Klein asked about bleachers and mosquito control. Cross said Brainerd Community Action handles the mosquito control and people are advised to bring blankets and lawn chairs.

Cleaning up any potholes on the route, barricades and public mowing were considered for part of the city’s effort. Exsted said they plan to have weekly meetings regarding staffing and equipment.

Olson said one thing that has jumped out is the need for parking as businesses they thought may be closed and allow for public parking will instead be open for business. Mills Fleet Farm will be open that day, the city reported.

“I think, to be honest, our biggest concern is parking,” Exsted said.

The city may need to modify its sign and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ordinance for the event. Council member Mark Cross said most cities turn a blind eye for that kind of conflict. But Exsted said in this case the city’s ordinance specifically lists the area for no ATV traffic and most of Community Action’s movements that day are on ATVs. The police department is considering using ATVs as well.

The council didn’t make a decision Tuesday, but Walter said if they do want the roadside mower to tackle the area more than once, staff will need to know soon.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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