by Dennis Dalman
The Sartell city staff, council and administrator were elated to hear the Minnesota Legislature will give the city a grant of $500,000 for acquisition of more land for the development of Sauk River Regional Park.
The money for the park is part of nearly $1 billion the legislature approved last week in its bonding bill for many projects throughout the state, including many others in the greater St. Cloud area.
Sartell City Administrator Mary Degiovanni said the grant was the result of an ongoing partnership with State Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (R-Sartell), who worked hard on behalf of getting the grant for the park. Degiovanni also praised landowners Ralph and LaVerne Dehler, brother and sister, who sold the city the 44-acre site; and Ernie Wollak, who sold a smaller parcel of land to the city.
Degiovanni also credited Sartell resident Steve Feneis, who helped negotiate the land-purchase agreement. The deal was sealed just this past February, although the Sartell City Council has long hoped to have a regional park in that scenic area.
“This new grant will help us get more adjoining (land) spaces,” Degiovanni said. “We used previous state funding to acquire other acreage there.”
The other state money was a $1.5 million Minnesota Legacy grant to Sartell, which required the city spend $60,000 toward the park, which it did through its park-dedication fund.
The next step, Degiovanni noted, is for the city to build an access road to the park and put in a parking area there, hopefully this summer. At that time, the park can be open to the public.
Sauk River Regional Park, as it will be known, is a stretch of land next to the Sauk River in south Sartell, on the border with St. Cloud and that city’s north end of Whitney Park. It is a very pristine, undeveloped area, and Sartell park planners want to keep it as pristine as possible for hiking, biking and picnic areas.
The Sauk River Regional Park funds are just some of the massive amount of money the legislature approved for statewide projects, a combination of using $200 million from the state income surplus and $846 million from a bonding bill. The surplus bill was approved late last week 44-19 in the Senate and 82-50 in the House. The bonding bill was approved 47-17 in the Senate and 92-40 in the House.
All told, nearly $30 million in the disbursements will go to the greater St. Cloud area. They include:
• $500,00 to Sartell for Sauk River Regional Park, as detailed above.
• $11.56 million for expansion and a parking ramp at River’s Edge Convention Center, St. Cloud.
• $4.4 million for repairs at Ritchie Auditorium/Stewart Hall building at St. Cloud State University.
• $865,000 to renovate Eastman Hall at SCSU.
• $1.1 million for improvements at the Metro Bus Operations Center, St. Cloud.
• $18 million for a new health-services unit at the St. Cloud State Technical College.
There is also $50 million now available for roads and bridges throughout the state.