Next phase of development includes new streets, new homes, a second pond and a natural park

    The Crookston Park Board this week showed its support of Nature View Estates’ development on the northeast edge of town after hearing from local developer Bob Herkenhoff, who plans to gift a natural park with two ponds to the city after all is said and done. If the City Council approves the final development, a turn lane off Fisher Avenue to the planned extension of Eickhof Boulevard could then be requested to be added to the county’s 2020 plans of redoing County Road 11.

    The city had already approved cul de sacs for Spruce and Fir Lanes which will house 12 buildable lots facing the nature park. Fourteen additional lots will be added to the proposed Eickhof Boulevard extension.

    The City Planning Commission Tuesday evening also showed support for the development by approving the plat for the project, endorsing zoning parameters and agreeing to vacate the northernmost gravel portion of Eickhof Boulevard, which currently curves its way northeastward before it meets Polk County Highway 11 and will, as part of the project, be straightened and terminate at the county road.

    “I think it’s a good plan,” said City Building Official/Zoning Administrator Greg Hefta.

    Herkenhoff told the Park Board that when you’re a developer, “you almost have to do a lot of trading and swapping,” and he highlighted some of the trades he’s done with another contractor to build on the open lots and lots he’s donated to the city for tax reasons. In regards to the nature park, Herkenhoff says it’s roughly 30 acres and the gifting will be done in two phases to allow for a trade with the city to put in a road off Eickhof to the proposed turn lane on County 11 which is currently being designed by Widseth Smith Nolting & Associates.

    There are also plans to extend the current trail to allow local residents access to the park and ponds. Herkenhoff told the Planning Commission that he wants to recover and reuse as much of the gravel from the vacated portion of Eickhof Boulevard as possible to be reused on the trail system to the natural park, and also for a parking area for up to a half-dozen vehicles for people who drive there to use the trails.

    “This isn’t going to be a park where you’re mowing; it’s all native grasses and flowers, and the south pond has fish for catch and release,” Herkenhoff explained. “There are kids out there every day during the summer and we haven’t had too many issues.”

    He told the commission that in the future, with only a day or two of work by a backhoe, the two ponds could be eventually combined into one pond, with people being able to kayak through the middle passage. A walking bridge could be built, too, he said.

    Herkenhoff said the plan is to transfer the park over to the city within 20 years, but it could be sooner if he sells some twin homes and gets a tax break.

    Park Board Chair Garrett Borowicz thinks it’s a “great plan” and likes the non-maintenance grass being more natural, the fact that there are geese out there and added that “it’s a great spot to bring your kids fishing.”

    Planning Commission member Travis Oliver said the whole development “makes a lot of sense to me.”

    Park Board members and ex-officios also talked about current access to the park, garbage receptacles, and agreed that no motorized vehicles should be allowed unless they have a special permit like a golf cart for the elderly.

    The Park Board unanimously approved their support of the development and added an additional motion, provided by Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle, that allows the area to remain in its natural state which requires a special landscaping management plan. As for naming of the park and the ponds, that will be put on the back burner but Parks & Rec Supervisor Scott Butt mentioned that the “kids” call the south pond, “Bob’s Pond”, and “they all know where to go then.”