Renville County exploring possible sale of flood-prone park along Minnesota River
The Renville County Board of Commissioners is expected to set a public hearing in March as the first step in the process of selling 86.85 acres of land comprising Anderson Lake County Park.
OLIVIA — Anderson Lake County Park might just be too wet to stay wild.
Renville County is looking at selling the land that comprises the small, flood-prone park along the Minnesota River .
The Renville County Board of Commissioners is expected to set a 10 a.m. March 28 public hearing at the County Office Building in Olivia as the first step in the process of selling the 86.85 acres of land comprising Anderson Lake County Park.
The park is located along the Minnesota River downstream of Franklin and accessed from County Road 5.
It’s the least utilized of the county’s seven parks. The wooded, floodplain park offers hiking, bird and wildlife viewing, and shoreline fishing. It’s also open to participants in the county’s archery deer hunt. It does not offer camping or other recreational amenities.
The park experiences chronic flooding, according to Jesse Diehn, parks and trails supervisor for Renville County. Due to flooding and flood-related issues in the park, the county has not opened up the gates to the park for a few years now, he said.
It receives only limited use, according to Diehn. He and park staff will see the occasional vehicle parked outside the gate or the signs of foot traffic in the park.
He said the lake’s water level has dropped. Its former shoreline is now rimmed by mud, impeding access to the water.
Diehn and County Administrator Lisa Herges have been looking into what is required to remove land from a park system and put it up for sale. There is a requirement for a public hearing, they told the County Board of Commissioners at its Feb. 21 meeting.
The commissioners said they are interested in hearing public input on the possible sale. The county owns five individual parcels that comprise the park. Some of them are landlocked. That raises the question of whether the county should sell the parcels as one property or separately, the commissioners said.
Commissioner Randy Kramer said the county should also determine whether the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources might be interested in the site, and if it has first right of refusal on a land sale.
Diehn said the county’s Park and Trails Committee in August 2019 proposed selling the park land. Due to the flooding problems, the members suggested the county would do better to sell the land and put that money toward improvements at the county’s other parks, he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the need to explore the legal requirements involved with park land put the proposal on hold until now.
Diehn said county records indicate the park land was originally purchased with a combination of county and Land and Water Conservation Fund monies. The Anderson and Mack Lake county parks were developed sometime in the 1970s, and originally treated as one park, according to records from the era, he said.