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Baxter council looks at concepts for Whiskey Creek

BAXTER - Concepts for Whiskey Creek could create a park setting and address water pollutants. Baxter is currently working with Good Samaritan Society, which purchased the former golf course in anticipation of constructing a senior assisted living...

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BAXTER - Concepts for Whiskey Creek could create a park setting and address water pollutants.

Baxter is currently working with Good Samaritan Society, which purchased the former golf course in anticipation of constructing a senior assisted living facility and to create an area addressing water quality issues at Whiskey Creek.

HDR Engineering prepared a feasibility study looking at alternatives for increased water quality in the Whiskey Creek tributary that leads to the Mississippi River. The watershed receives stormwater runoff from most of Baxter's commercial district along Highway 371. With high water tables, localized flooding and erosion has been an issue for the Northland Arboretum next to the former golf course.

Consulting firm HDR presented the city with conceptual plans. One concept follows the natural contours of the site - the southern part of the property near the commercial development along Excelsior Road. That option creates more of a pond look, becoming more of a park like setting with paths and interpretive areas. The water would flow through a pre-treatment forebay before flowing into the larger pond. The city would be able to repurpose the bridge it removed from the Paul Bunyan Trail area earlier. The created path would connect to the nearby city trail and the Paul Bunyan Regional Trail.

The concept includes an automated system allowing the city to reduce the water in the pond by 2 feet or more before a significant rain event.

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A second concept uses a forebay treatment area, walkways and trail connections but uses a wetland design instead of the pond. In this case as stormwater moves into the creek it flows into three wetlands. With the wetland and floodplain option there would be a more diverse habitat.

The city would need to acquire 12.5 acres for both concepts.

The original concept was for a permanent pond in the southwest corner of the property. By comparison it has a smaller footprint, but treatment options are more limited.

In addition, HDR reported the pond and wetland concepts would incorporate a fair number of existing trees on the site now.

Construction on Excelsior Road is expected to raise the road. The water level at the stormwater pond at the Northland Arboretum will be lower by a few feet. Changes would allow the pond to discharge at a slower rate for greater treatment and the lower water level could be safer in case of vehicles leaving the roadway on that curve, which has been the case previously.

Council member Todd Holman said with all the residential growth planned for the area it will be more of a walking place than it has ever been and the city will want to make it look good as well as fitting together with the other areas.

When Holman suggested getting an appraisal for one more land piece to get a complete picture and perhaps more land to work for a stormwater pond, the council was divided with council members Rob Moser and Jim Klein saying they were fine with the plan as it was. Moser said it had water in it and looked good. Council member Mark Cross was absent.

The cost for the appraisal was estimated at $1,000.

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Later in the meeting when other appraisals were planned for the Excelsior Road project, Holman asked if the idea could be revisited. Moser agreed saying to make a good decision, the city would likely need to know the value of the land.

Approval of the water quality project was on Tuesday's meeting agenda. The council tabled it with more information expected to come at a future session.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

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Related Topics: WATER QUALITYBAXTER
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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