Approval of plans, specs for Central Park RV campground tabled for 2 weeks

That will give Widseth engineer Rich Clauson time to explore implementing Jerde's suggested changes

Mike Christopherson
Widseth's site plan for a 33-slot RV campground in Central Park equipped with a new bathhouse and full-service campsite hook-ups

The Crookston City Council on Monday evening tabled for two weeks a vote on a resolution approving plans and specifications for a new 33-slot RV campground in Central Park with full service hook-ups and a new bathhouse/shelter, and calling for bids.

The two weeks will give Widseth engineer Rich Clauson some time to look into tweaking the plans and specifications after Ward 1 Council member Kristie Jerde offered a couple suggestions. Jerde, who said her parents are frequent RV’ers who travel around the country, noted that older RV’ers who drive the larger RVs look for campgrounds with “pull-throughs,” which are campsites that don’t require them to drive in, set-up, and then back out when it’s time to leave. Slots with pull-throughs allow them to exit without having to back up.

Clauson said it was possible to potentially add a half-dozen or so pull-through slots to the plans, but that adding much more would significantly drive up the cost and make it more difficult for the entire layout to work. Each campsite requires 2,000 square feet of space, he noted, “So it’s tough to change it so you can ride through,” Clauson added.

It’s possible having some pull-through sites will be added as a bid option.

As for Jerde’s second suggestion, as a camper herself and a mom with young kids, she said it would be nice if the bathhouse was equipped with a “family bathroom” space for privacy and safety. Clauson said he’d look into that as well.

“If we’re going to do this campground, let’s do it right,” Jerde said.

Another aspect of the project that drew a question is its location, which floods when the Red Lake River nearby reaches a depth of 19 to 20 feet. Ward 2 Council member Steve Erickson said he continues to get questions from the community about electrical equipment and other RV campground components being damaged by river water and ice.

To that, Clauson said Parks and Recreation staff for years in Central Park have disconnected and removed electrical boxes in the fall and returned them after the spring melt. Parks & Recreation Supervisor Scott Butt added that the Central Park RV campground is being modeled after the one in East Grand Forks along the Red River, at which electrical components are simply “popped out” and removed and no inner components are damaged by water.

State grant

Two years ago, the City, through its membership in the Red Lake River Corridor Group with other cities and county agencies along the Red Lake River, received a grant of approximately $1.4 million from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission for the RV campground. The local match involves constructing the bathhouse/shelter for a cost of around $400,000. That money has been set aside in the budget, awaiting the project to become reality.

The grant funds need to be expended by next year or the City risks losing them.

With the costs of concrete, lumber and other construction materials rising dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic has waned, City officials will be crossing their fingers in the hope that the bids don’t come in at budget-busting levels. The cost increases have leveled off some of late, however. Clauson said the campground and the bathhouse will be bid separately.

Assuming the bids are palatable enough for a project on some level to come to fruition, Clauson said it’s likely that work would start in late summer or early fall and carry over into the spring of 2022.