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Kensington Runestone Park to expand in 2013

Yes, no and maybe. One grant application was approved, another denied and plans to apply for one next year were discussed at Thursday's county board meeting.

Award letters for two Park Legacy grant applications applied for in 2012 were received on Wednesday. Park Superintendent Al Lieffort said the county was awarded a grant for acquisition of land at Kensington Runestone Park. The grant for $337,000 will pay for the purchase of 84-acres of land on the south end of Eng Lake.

While no definitive plans are in place for the land as of yet, Lieffort said the previous idea to add a trail connecting Kensington Runestone Park to Solem Lutheran Church will not be feasible due to restrictions placed on the land between properties. One suggested use for the expansion is horseback riding trails.

The project at Lake Brophy Park did not receive funding. Plans were to purchase 56-acres of land. Lieffort said the county could apply again next September.

More than $46 million in requests were made for $7 million grant funds available. Out of 80 applications, seven were funded, Lieffort said.

Lieffort urged commissioners to consider projects that are "up in the air" at Curt Felt Memorial Park and Lake Brophy Park during their organizational meeting on January 8. Work to construct a lighted horseshoe court, picnic shelter and restrooms was previously discussed for Curt Felt Memorial Park which Lieffort noted is in commissioner-elect Charlie Meyer's District 4. Lake Brophy Park is in commissioner-elect James Stratton's District 2. Lieffort invited both men to work with him on plans moving forward in the coming year.

Moving from land to water, Land and Resource Director Dave Rush, received the go-ahead to apply for a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) water inspection grant in 2013 to help fund the fight against aquatic invasive species.

In 2012, the county purchased a decontamination unit and hired five watercraft inspectors. More than 1,200 hours of inspection were carried out over the course of the summer at a cost of approximately $12,000, Rush said. The grant applied for in 2012 would have covered up to $32,500 of expenses. Rush said a conservative approach was taken in 2012 and more can be done in 2013.

"We really set a high-bar for other jurisdictions in the state," Rush said. "The DNR found us to be an excellent partner to work with in our area."

Although additional lakes were found to be infested with zebra mussels in Douglas County this past year, Rush said that there are still waters in the county that are very popular and are not yet infested.

Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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