Plan begins with ideas for 61-acre property purchased by Pierz

Before anything can be done with the 61-acre property the city of Pierz purchased near its golf course and park earlier this year, a master plan must be put together, discussed and approved.

The services for City Engineer Scott Hedlund, of Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) Inc. to do that, will cost about $14,300.

A decision about the proposal for services was tabled during the regular meeting of the Pierz City Council Monday. The Council wants to wait to approve it until its next meeting, to have time to decide which fund the $14,300 will be taken from. The Park Fund will be somewhat depleted, with work being done at the clubhouse and at the park restroom facilities this year.

The city’s Finance Committee will meet before the next City Council meeting and will be asked to make a recommendation as to which funds should be used.

Before the regular meeting, the committee chosen by the city to determine how that property would best be used, viewed ideas presented by Karyn Luger, a licensed landscape architect and licensed professional engineer with SEH.

In addition to being a fundamental part of the Pierz Loop, a trail currently being phased in that will eventually connect to the Soo Line Trail, the land could also accommodate more campground space, a few more holes for the golf course, other possible recreational and park areas.

Luger’s presentation showcased ideas implemented by other cities, including such items as a water feature, an amphitheater, ice rinks, fishing spots, parking and more, all attractively landscaped.

The committee will have to decide what wants and needs fit the Pierz area.

Any plans approved could be implemented in phases, as some can be quite expensive. Several projects shown by Luger cost $2 million for one phase.

Added to that, the site must be studied to see whether issues, such as wetland problems, need to be addressed before any other work begins.

Other items that need to be addressed in the short-term are roads in and out of the area and infrastructure.

Mayor Toby Egan asked everyone to not get frustrated, to remember that no one will get everything they want, and to think about the project in terms of short-term and long-term goals.

The Council has no plans to use taxpayer dollars to fund the development of the property, Egan told the group. Instead, plans are to use funds from the city’s enterprise funds and from profits from the golf course and campgrounds.

That means development will be a long process.

In the meantime, the Council voted to send a letter to property owners on Park Avenue whose backyards abut the property, asking them to remove any items that may be stored or parked on land now owned by the city, by Aug. 1.

Council Member Stephanie Fyten said the city’s attorney had made that recommendation to alleviate any liability against the city.

That step is one of many that must be taken before anything major happens at the site.

“A lot of things need to happen before we can construct anything there,” said Egan. “Those need to be short-term goals, along with anything else the committee feels is short-term.”

No matter what is planned at the site, “We’re going to have to develop it in increments as we can afford to do them,” Egan said.

Some of the short-term goals may not include only infrastructure, but items that might start generating income, like added camping or a few more holes to the golf course, Egan said.

The Council set Monday, June 12, at 5:30 p.m. for the next meeting of the committee and Hedlund, to discuss possibilities for the 60-plus acre parcel near the Pierz Golf Course and Park.

Pierz City Council Briefs

At Monday’s meeting, the Pierz City Council:

  • Learned 10 new banners would be ordered proclaiming the city’s 125th anniversary this year. The banners will be put in rotation with the other city banners. So they can be used past this year, the words “Established 1892” will be added. An afternoon/evening celebration is being planned, including food and refreshments. The tentative date being looked at is Saturday, Sept. 2, over the Labor Day weekend, although that is not certain. A trivia contest with questions taken from the book “Pierzana” will be put on the Facebook page. Also being considered is a display of items from the past that were once collected when the idea of a museum was in the works and a possible scavenger hunt; and
  • Learned of a problem with parking at the corner of First Avenue Northwest, where the street is quite narrow and one resident has trouble backing up into the street because cars are parked on the other side. The Council will ask Police Chief Eric Hanneken to look into the matter.

The Council’s next meeting is Monday, May 8, at 7 p.m.