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County OKs land purchase to expand Games Lake park

WILLMAR--A divided Kandiyohi County Board voted 3-2 last week in favor of purchasing additional land to enlarge Games Lake County Park. The expansion will create new opportunities for developing amenities at one of the most popular parks in the c...

Briana Sanchez / Tribune This portion of land sits empty for now on Friday in rural New London. County board voted 3-2 in favor of purchasing this land to enlarge Games Lake County Park.
Briana Sanchez / Tribune This portion of land sits empty for now on Friday in rural New London. County board voted 3-2 in favor of purchasing this land to enlarge Games Lake County Park.

WILLMAR-A divided Kandiyohi County Board voted 3-2 last week in favor of purchasing additional land to enlarge Games Lake County Park.

The expansion will create new opportunities for developing amenities at one of the most popular parks in the county park system.

Neighbors are worried it will lead to more pressure on the lake and surrounding environment, however, a concern that prompted "no" votes from two County Commissioners, Steve Ahmann and Rollie Nissen.

Ahmann and Nissen said they support the county park system but were responding to what they heard from local residents.

Games Lake is relatively small, and future development needs to take this into account, Ahmann said.

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"At what point in time do we say enough is enough for this particular lake?" he said.

He called it "a very tough decision to make."

The landowner approached the county several months ago about the sale of the 4.43-acre parcel which lies along the west boundary of Games Lake County Park. County officials saw it as an opportunity to enhance the park, and this past spring the County Board authorized negotiations for a purchase agreement.

The county also successfully obtained a $150,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to develop the park addition and offset the $390,000 cost of purchasing the land.

Board members voted 4-1 last week to accept the grant; Ahmann voted no.

Several steps must be completed yet before the grant approval is final. The entire transaction, including the land purchase, will be wrapped up in late September or early October.

It's the first time in many years for one of the parks in the county park system to have an opportunity to expand.

County officials sought last week to reassure nearby residents that the land acquisition won't lead to overdevelopment.

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Plans are still under discussion but the parcel will most likely be used for walking trails and rustic campsites, said Larry Kleindl, county administrator.

The parcel contains a house and a couple of outbuildings. The rest of it is mostly wooded and undeveloped. It includes some stands of mature hard maples.

Nissen said he's hearing from the local residents that they want the reassurance of a specific plan.

"I would strongly urge that we leave it as a primitive area," he said.

"I think we're all on the same page," Kleindl agreed. "We've tried to be good neighbors on all the county property we have."

Recreation and tourism are an important component of the local economy and need to be supported, said Roger Imdieke, chairman of the County Board.

"I don't think it's anybody's intention to desire to do anything to denigrate that lake," he said. "It's part of our heritage, part of our culture, in this county."

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Related Topics: KANDIYOHI COUNTY
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