Crow Wing County Board: Board approves funds for Milford Mine park completion
A county park project six years in the making received budget approval for completion of its final phase Tuesday. The Crow Wing County Board Tuesday approved spending an additional $101,000 from the parks fund to finish work on Milford Mine Memor...
A county park project six years in the making received budget approval for completion of its final phase Tuesday.
The Crow Wing County Board Tuesday approved spending an additional $101,000 from the parks fund to finish work on Milford Mine Memorial Park. Milford Mine was the site 92 years ago of one of the worst mining disasters in U.S. history, when 41 miners were killed in flooded underground tunnels after a mine shaft collapsed.
Bryan Pike, land services natural resource manager, and Chris Pence, land services supervisor, presented the budget request to the board Tuesday.
Pike is the primary coordinator of the Milford park project. He explained construction of a boardwalk bridge across Milford Lake currently underway is funded through a grant from the Legacy Amendment Parks and Trails Fund.
"Additional funds are needed to complete the third and final phase of the project," Pike said.
The third phase includes marking trails, the installation of interpretive signage and protection of the mine shaft. Previous phases of the project included improving public access through parking areas and a walking path along the north end of Milford Lake along with construction of a picnic shelter, benches, picnic tables, bicycle rack and cooking grills. Landscape trees were also planted and a park entrance sign installed.
Pence said the county applied for and was denied a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society in 2015, and he described that as the "last grant opportunity that we have the opportunity to apply for."
"The reason why I'm bringing this forward is that we currently have a beautiful boardwalk that's in the middle of being constructed, and currently it's going to nowhere," Pence said. "It's going to a part of the park that will not have proper signage, it won't have trails set up. We have a mine shaft there that needs to be protected. So we want to make sure that for people to use that and who want to gain access to it, we want to make sure it's properly designated on that side."
The budget amendment request included re-designating $51,000 in budgeted funds not spent in 2015 along with an additional $50,000. Added to the $41,000 budgeted in 2016, a total of $141,000 would be used to complete the final phase.
"It's been six years in the work, and it is a beautiful park," said Chairman Doug Houge. "To get the project completed and to be able to get it used as it's intended is important. I think that it's what our parks fund is for. That's the intention of the money."
Commissioner Paul Thiede said he agreed with Houge about the park, although he expressed concerns about the county spending money on a project for which it intended to receive grant support.
"When we started this six years ago, that was not our intent," Thiede said. "I think we have not been perhaps as diligent as we could be."
Pence said he did not expect the county to get into the business of creating future parks.
"This is kind of a one-time, special situation," he said. Even so, he added any future projects like this one would have a "much more in-depth review of the finances."
An "excellent surplus" from timber sales and tax-forfeited property revenues, part of which supports the parks fund, made the budget request feasible, Pence said.
"It makes an opportunity to put this project to bed," he said.
Before the budget amendment, the parks fund contained a balance of $348,000.
Pike added the county was set for a $70,000 reimbursement for costs related to the boardwalk construction.
The county board approved the amendment unanimously.
CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or email@example.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .