Renville County Board is backing away from grant for off-highway vehicle park
OLIVIA -- For the second time, Renville County's Board of Commissioners is backing away from a proposal to develop an off-highway vehicle park. "Too many strings attached on this thing,'' said John Stahl, chairman of the board, during discussions...
OLIVIA -- For the second time, Renville County's Board of Commissioners is backing away from a proposal to develop an off-highway vehicle park.
"Too many strings attached on this thing,'' said John Stahl, chairman of the board, during discussions at a work session on Tuesday.
Board members said they would act next Tuesday to reject $285,000 in funds offered by the state Department of Natural Resources for land acquisition and development of the park. The board members had also rejected grant funds in 2004 for the same proposal.
The county has been looking at developing an off-highway vehicle park in a gravel pit in Section 35 of Henryville Township near Beaver Falls County Park. The county owns 40 acres of the site. Mark Erickson, director of community development and environment, told the commissioners on Tuesday that the owner of the remaining 157 acres -- Scott Anderson -- indicated he was willing to sell his land to the county.
Erickson also reported that the DNR was willing to increase grant funds for the project from $225,000 to $285,000 due to the rising costs of acquiring recreational property. The overall project was estimated to cost $300,000, he said.
The county would have been required to contribute about $15,000 of in-kind services to match the grant. Much of the in-kind services would have been provided as volunteer labor by the Redwood Area Trail Tamers, which has been encouraging the development.
Joel Mertens, a representative of the trail group, attended the meeting and afterward expressed his disappointment at the turn of events.
Club members had offered to assist with both developing the park and policing its use.
Landowners near the gravel pit oppose its development as an off-highway vehicle park. Two of the residents -- Darlene Konz and Harvey Mathiowetz -- also attended the meeting to reiterate those concerns.
They told the commissioners that unregulated off-highway vehicle riding now occurring at the site creates a variety of problems. They complained about excessive noise and trespassing issues related to the use of the site.
Mathiowetz said the owner of the 157-acre portion of the site has given him permission to post the site to ban trespassing. He will be seeking to have the law enforced and off-highway vehicle riders kept out of the site.
The opposition by neighboring landowners to the park was only one of the factors that concerned the commissioners.
The other issue facing development of the site is a lease of the gravel pit -- located on the Anderson land -- by Duininck Bros. Construction, Prinsburg. The lease runs through 2010 and could possibly be extended, according to Erickson.
He and county commissioners said they had one conversation with Duininck representatives about the site. They were not able to learn the company's long-range plans for the site. They also indicated that they did not believe the company would be willing to negotiate a buyout of the lease by the county.
As a result, Commissioner Bob Fox said the county could not invest in developing the infrastructure for a park there. The company could tear up the infrastructure, exercising its right to mine gravel. Only the company knows how much gravel remains to be mined at the site, the commissioners added.
The decision to reject the DNR funds leaves the county with only limited opportunities to create an off-highway vehicle park. The commissioners instructed Erickson to search for a different site, but they noted that previous searches have not been successful.
Renville County has been seeking a site to develop an off-highway vehicle park ever since it banned the vehicles from the existing county parks. Their use was blamed for extensive erosion damage along with noise and safety issues.