City administrator addresses questions, concerns about proposed Castle Park location.
We have been receiving questions and feedback on the construction of a new campground at Castle Park over the past week and your comments have been valuable and are encouraged. I felt it important to share pertinent information with the public.
The goal of developing a campground at Castle Park began several years ago. In fact, the City Administrator at the time, Aaron Parrish applied for a grant from the Department of Natural Resources to do so. Reapplication for the grant has taken place each of the last three years hoping to secure the necessary funding. It could take several more years for Crookston to potentially secure grant funding, and as competitive as this process has become, perhaps never.
Seemingly, every year the campground at Central Park is inundated with flood water. This flooding has taken its toll on infrastructure and over time it has become costly to maintain Central Park as the campground site. In short, Central Park is not a candidate for investment to improve the campground.
Camping tourism is very important to many surrounding communities in our region. Large or small, most of these towns have embraced RV tourism as an economic benefit to their community. Currently, Crookston lags behind these communities in welcoming camping visitors. These campers are for the most part families on vacation during the summer months. There is also a very definite need for recreational vehicle spaces in the fall months for American Crystal seasonal employees. Crookston has been hosting these workers for many years, and American Crystal has put forth a robust effort to recruit and make invitation to a workforce from all over the country in order to meet the labor need.
It is also important to clear up a few misconceptions about the project. I will list them below:
Q: Will this campground take up the entire green space at Castle Park?
A: No, not at all. Castle Park is approximately 20 acres and the City land for this project is approximately 2.5 acres. This land is located at the extreme southerly edge of the park, with a buffer zone of over 150 from the Natural Play Space. All of the open area between the Natural Play Space and the Dog Park will not be impacted. This will also allow us the opportunity to develop some other amenities such as water to the Natural Play Space and perhaps also for the future Splash Park.
Q: Will the developer cut down all the trees on the south end of the park?
A: The developer has indicated that he intends to keep as many hardwood trees as possible. Brush and small poplar trees will be removed in areas to create campsites. Further, the developer has indicated adding trees to add aesthetics to the property and the City plans on introducing more trees to the Park as well. This area does not include any of the established trails and wooded area on the west side of the property. The trails will not be impacted.
Q: Will this become a trailer park or man camp?
A: No, absolutely not. The City will define recreational vehicles and establish other covenants that protect the aesthetics and integrity of the campground. The values and interests of the City and our residents will be assured. Mobile homes will not be allowed and it will not become a trailer park.
Q: Can the current utilities handle storm sewer and sanitary sewer for these additional units?
A: Yes, we have more than adequate capacity to handle the additional units in Castle Park.
Q: Did the City explore any other locations for the campground?
A: Yes, we looked at several different alternatives in the community. Each of these sites had their own challenges that eliminated them from consideration.
In summary, the development of a campground with full hook ups for recreational vehicles has been a goal of the City of Crookston for some time now. We have an opportunity to achieve this goal at a site that was identified many years ago and have the investment dollars come primarily from private investors and not the tax payers. At the same time we can assist American Crystal, one of the largest employers and industry partners in Crookston, by satisfying a need for space for their seasonal labor force.
If last year’s grant application had been successful, the City would be finalizing plans this spring and developing the campground this summer ourselves. Without the grant it is cost prohibitive for the City to begin construction of the campground. The emergence of a private developer allows Crookston to move forward with a previously planned, much needed project that will have a positive economic impact on the entire community for years to come.
Please feel free to contact me at City Hall with further questions.