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In the Know column: Sounds of progress in Douglas County

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners, which I chair, approved an aggressive schedule of road improvements. The one that will likely get the most attention is the roundabout near the YMCA on 82.

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By Tim Kalina

The sounds of progress will be heard loud and clear this spring and summer in Douglas County. The best way to keep everyone in the know is to provide information that will help us all navigate the county projects scheduled and opportunities available.

Let’s get the challenging news over first. The Douglas County Board of Commissioners, which I chair, approved an aggressive schedule of road improvements. The one that will likely get the most attention is the roundabout near the YMCA on 82.

Our public works director Tim Erickson says over the next month or so, they’ll be getting the utilities relocated. There are three transmission line poles that will also need to be moved. The county will open bids in mid-May. Work on the roundabout will begin in July, but the initial phase will not close County Road 82. Also, a temporary access road will be built for access to the YMCA. Work will then be suspended between August 15 and August 21 for the Douglas County fair.

The Monday after the fair, August 22, public works will open the detour and close the intersection. The official detour route will be for motorists to take Latoka Drive/Willow Drive to Fairgrounds Road and then back to County Road 82. The county also encourages all traffic between Alexandria and areas west of Garfield to use County Road 22 to bypass the entire construction site. The contractor will have eight weeks to complete the rest of the project and the roundabout is scheduled to open to traffic by October 14. As with all construction, schedules change. This particular construction schedule may even change as soon as we have awarded bids and know who the contractor will be. Material supply and the weather can impact our plans as well. To see the progress of all road construction projects in the county, go to our website at www.co.douglas.mn.us and look on the right-hand side for GIS Hub. You’ll find a number of useful maps including one for the location of and progress on construction projects.

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Construction will also begin on the Brophy Park Visitor Center on beautiful Lake Brophy. This visitor center will be available for use as a warming shelter in the winter months and a place to sit and visit inside and out during the summer. There will be six bathrooms to add to the family bathroom/changing rooms already available. There will be picnic style tables inside and outside on a lovely patio area overlooking the playground and lake. The parking lot will also be expanded. The visitor center will be located to the west of the playground.

It’s hoped construction can be completed by the fall of 2022. The covered shelter will be available for reservation, while the patio is open for the public to use on a first come first served basis. We are very excited for this addition to one of the county’s most-used parks. We’re also excited about an improved swimming experience for those using Lake Brophy Park. The county approved hiring a contractor to hand pull the weeds in front of the beach. We believe this is an environmentally friendly way to get the weeds under control from the start.

This summer at Chippewa Park members of the public will see some work done on creating sewer hook ups to the camp sites but we are still waiting for grant dollars to begin work on our long-term plan to add additional campsites and a storm shelter/bathroom facility.

At Pilgrim Point Park, most of the work will need to wait until the private housing development advances. The road into the area will be completed and the parking lot for the future park will be shaped up. Of course, boaters will be able to pull up on the beautiful sandy beach and enjoy the sunshine. In 2023 there will also be a county owned restroom for their use. Future work on the bike path, playgrounds and shelters will start once funding is secured.

The spring and summer seasons bring an opportunity for all of us to work together to improve our lake water quality. Now, more than ever before, we can make a difference. If you move your watercraft from lake to lake, follow the guidelines we’ve been promoting for years. Clean your watercraft, drain your live well, dry everything off, including your trailer, and properly dispose of your bait. Each summer the county hires Aquatic Invasive Species inspectors to assist boaters with this process. They should be out at various landings starting May 20th.

We hope for a fun and safe spring and summer season for all of our residents and visitors.

Tim Kalina is the chair of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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