If everything falls into place, construction could begin next year

    The City of Crookston’s pursuit of an RV campground in Central Park, which received more than $1 million in funding in 2018 from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, remains on track, City Administrator Shannon Stassen tells the Times. The funding isn’t official until the Minnesota Legislature includes it in a larger funding bill, he said, and although budget negotiations between the House, Senate and Gov. Tim Walz’s office appear to be at a stalemate over large-scale funding initiatives, the prospects for the funding being approved this spring are strong.

    Crookston, part of the multi-city and multi-county and multi-agency Red Lake River Corridor Enhancement Group Joint Powers Board, and other grant applicants received an update last week, Stassen reported, and funding for all of the projects approved by the parks and trails commission “seems to be on track.”

    With river corridor enhancements in and near Crookston being a focus of local officials for many years – the joint powers board formed in 2003 – other members of the corridor enhancement group understood that Crookston was better positioned to seek funding for larger-scale projects at this juncture, such as the RV campground in Central Park. Given that, Crookston received $1,036,500 for the RV campground, while Red Lake Falls received $300,000 for a campground, Thief River Falls received $101,381 for a paved trail, and East Grand Forks received $54,000 for kayak launches, trail improvements, signage and parking. (Two years ago, Crookston also was awarded funding for improved Red Lake River access points outside of Crookston, and for improved signage and other smaller-scale projects along the river.)

    Crookston’s $1 million-plus state funding includes a local match of more than $300,000, which would be spent on the construction of a new bath house in Central Park. Stassen said the money would come in the form of a loan from the City’s Municipal Land and Building Fund, to be paid back over time.

    If the funding becomes official when the legislature eventually adjourns for good this spring, Stassen said several months of work involving the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Historical Preservation Office and other agencies would be necessary before any actual construction could commence to expand the current “primitive” RV park into one with around 40 RV slots with sewer hookups. Stassen figures construction would begin sometime in 2020.

    Earlier concept drawings of the RV campground included in the northern portion of the park a dog park, volleyball court and playground, but those have since been removed from the plan, Stassen said, in favor of leaving open, uncommitted space in that area of the park. Once the RV campground is open and operational, there wouldn’t be enough room in Central Park for large-scale events like Night to Unite and the Crookston Classic Cruisers Run to the Park during Ox Cart Days, but Stassen said there are other possible locations for those events and other events in the community, such as Highland Park, Castle Park, Wildwood Park and Town Square/Ash Street.