Grant application, with a local match of $345,500, will be submitted by end of the month

    Given the green light by the Crookston City Council’s Ways & Means Committee, the final tweaks are being made in the City of Crookston’s grant application that, if awarded, would greatly expand and enhance the campground facilities in Central Park.

    As of now, the estimated project cost is $1.382 million. That includes $410,000 for roadways and RV gravel pads, $110,000 for a water main and related services, $350,000 for a lift station/sanitary sewer, $62,000 for electrical services, and $450,000 for a new bathhouse/storm shelter. The City match is $345,500.

    The council is expected to approve the final grant submission resolution at its July 23 meeting.

    The grant is being submitted as part of the City’s partnership with other cities along the Red Lake River known as the Red Lake River Corridor Enhancement Group. The City included an expanded Central Park RV campground in its previous grant application to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, but that portion of the grant was not funded. Instead, the City received around $200,000 for several enhanced and increased river access points for kayakers, etc., along with increased signage along the river trail.

    But City Administrator Shannon Stassen says the commission prefers to fund projects through to completion, and just because the Central Park RV campground wasn’t approved the last time around, the commission has continued to encourage the City’s continued pursuit for its funding in the upcoming funding round, or future funding rounds.

    “It’s very, very competitive,” Stassen said. “We could very well have to apply in multiple in multiple years to get it.” He added that he doesn’t believe the commission would be inclined to fund the RV campground in phases, and that it would likely be an “all-or-nothing” funding scenario. But, Stassen added, the commission seems to sort of being “redefining” its approach to funding projects each year.

    One thing potentially working in Crookston’s favor is that the commission wants consistent quality amenities at various points along the Red Lake River, and Crookston’s current campground is not nearly up to par compared with other cities’ campgrounds along the corridor. “They’re impressed with how our communities are working together, and that suggests to me that they want to get our campground up to the level of others along the corridor,” Stassen explained.

    It’s looking like the RV campground layout will include 45 RV slots with full sewer, water and electrical hookups. There is room for 48 slots, but Stassen said the final number will likely be 45 so that more greenspace in the park can be available for other activities.

    Currently, the RV slots would be available for a maximum of two-week stays, which Stassen said is similar to the model at the East Grand Forks campground along their greenway. But late-season, harvest-time exceptions could potentially be made, also similar to what the East Grand Forks campground does, he said.

    If at some point in the future it looks like the campground’s RV slot rental model needs to be modified to allow for longer stays in order to cover the costs of running it and maintaining it, Stassen and some council members said the City would have the flexibility to make changes. Council members also suggested being flexible for when workers come to the Crookston area due to major construction projects.

    City Finance Director Angel Weasner said the City’s $345,500 local match would be borrowed from the City’s Municipal Land and Building Fund, which currently has a balance of around $1 million. The City would then pay it back over time.

    Stassen said it’s likely the City would receive word on its latest grant proposal around mid-winter. If the Central Park campground is funded this time around, he said it would be a couple summers before the new campground is ready for campers.

    Mayor Wayne Melbye suggested that at some point a committee of council members and others in the community who are experienced RV’ers be formed to make sure the absolute best campground results. “Let’s make it first class so it fills up,” he said.