The Carver County Board approved a purchase agreement for the last remaining parcel within the Lake Waconia Regional Park boundary on Nov. 27. The 19.29 acre parcel preserves 890 feet of shoreline for conservation and public use.
“Preserving this property will allow current residents and future generations the opportunity to enjoy one of the county’s greatest assets – Lake Waconia,” said Carver County Board Chairman James Ische. “The acquisition of the parcel is key to resolving a long awaited closure of Old Beach Lane to vehicle traffic and the planned continuation of a trail connection from downtown Waconia and along lakeshore to the park.”
A significant feature about the parcel is that it contains a 40-foot tall hillside.
From the top of the hill one has a panoramic view of the lake, Coney Island, with views to the south to undeveloped property and a view to the west of the city. This topography feature effectively blocks noise which occurs outside of the park from the park setting.
Conversely, nearby residents are sheltered from active use areas of the park and large events which occur inside the park.
A public boat access is planned in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources. For financial and efficiency purposes, it is proposed that land needed for the boat access be purchased by the DNR and they would provide funding for development. Day to day park maintenance of the boat access would be performed by the County and there would be no fee to access. This public water access will enhance activities at the park as well has help to alleviate parking congestion and a hazardous parking condition along County Road 92 near the DNR access.
Lake Waconia Regional Park amenities include a beach, parking area, playground, picnic area, sledding hill and supports an annual visitation of approximately 102,000 visits. Additionally, the park has hosted state and regionally significant events of the Governor’s Fishing Opener, Waconia Triathlon, the Vintage Snowmobile Classic, the National Windsurfing Regatta and is a favorite location to watch the annual 4th of July fireworks display. Regional significance is further demonstrated with 42 percent of the park’s visitors originating from outside of the County and thus demonstrating the need for state and regional funding.
The negotiated purchase price of $3,250,000 was based upon a property appraisal. It is anticipated that Carver County will receive full reimbursement for the acquisition. Funds to acquire the property will come from two sources of the Metropolitan Council, CIP funds and Acquisition Opportunity Funds.
The CIP funds are a biannual appropriation to Carver County by formula. Acquisition Opportunity Funds are a dedicated funding source supported by Legacy Funding (sales tax proceeds for Parks and Trails) for land acquisition. Regional park agencies such as Carver County can utilize this funding for land that is within an approved regional park master plan.
If Carver County does not use the funding other regional park agencies will use the funds to acquire regional parks and trails for their County or City. Carver County residents pay a variety of taxes, including sales tax, which support these types of regional park projects and this land acquisition applies those taxes locally.
Early concepts for Lake Waconia Regional Park date back to master plans created in 1975. Later in 1996 an acquisition master plan was approved through a public process to define park boundary and provide guidance for the types of recreation to be offered at park. In 2001, another public input and review process was undertaken to create the development master plan for the park. This plan reaffirmed recreational uses and laid out the proposed locations of roadways, beach, picnic areas, trails, boat access, group use area, sledding hill, playground, parking and areas of conservation.