Ways & Means Committee approved $1500 in matching funds towards the grant request

    The Crookston City Council Ways & Means Committee approved $1500 in matching funds this week for a grant request of $25,000 to the Northwest Minnesota Foundation for a $50,000 project with the Red Lake River Corridor Joint Powers Board. Grant funding and the match will strengthen their larger application with the Greater MN Regional Parks & Trails Commission in late July. If granted, the funding and match will be used in four specific ways:

    1. Engage community members in river recreation activities like with the International Water Institute events in 2017 and 2018 that are free to the public and held in Crookston, East Grand Forks, Thief River Falls and possibly Red Lake Falls. (Last year over 250 people attended and paddled the river at Central Park in Crookston.)

    2. Identify access points that need improvement as well as new access points, especially the communities that do not have Parks and Recreation staff.

    3. Raise visibility of the Red Lake River Water Trail through signage and kiosks with hopes of signage at 40 sites installed.

    4. Further develop financial request to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks & Trails Commission (GMRPTC.)

    “Larger cities would contribute the $1500 match and smaller communities would be considerably less,” explained Crookston City Administrator Shannon Stassen. “There are some in-kind options available as well, but the cash is critical to help us move forward.”

    The Red Lake River Corridor Joint Powers Board (RLRCJPB) is comprised of six cities, three counties and one watershed district and, during a recent tour of the entire water trail with the GMRPTC, commission members and staff gave them feedback to strengthen their application.

    “The RLRC was encouraged to ‘think big’ as we develop a premier destination water trail,” explained Stassen. “Part of thinking big is improving Crookston’s campground infrastructure.”

    “We need to look hard at Central Park as we are a stopping point on the water trail,” he added. “There are some opportunities to bond for a portion and we could take care of a big chunk on our own.”

    Stassen mentioned in his memo to the committee that currently TRF, EGF and even RLF provide better camping opportunities adjacent to the Red Lake River.

    He also highlighted Explore Minnesota’s list of key features of a successful campground and Crookston meets all but two which are fishing guides and casinos.

    “Crookston’s portion of the plan is to improve and add access points upstream of Crookston and throughout the city,” said Stassen. “Improvement of Central Park’s campground must become a priority.”

    Stassen added that he would like the council to look at doing something similar to EGF to gain visitors for recreation and getaways.

    Crookston’s Central Park currently has 25 camp sites, water at the building and sewer access across the river. There is electricity available at most sites as well as a few tenting spots with no power.