Despite delay, Carver County optimistic on park land deal

A delay has surfaced regarding Carver County’s plans to acquire the last parcel of land earmarked for Lake Waconia Regional Park. The county announced that it had reached a verbal agreement to purchase the land from the Pauls, the family that owns the 19 acre parcel of land, in November 2012.
According to Carver County Administrator Dave Hemze, that verbal purchase agreement is still in tact, but the family appears to be waiting to finish the deal while it works on a separate purchase agreement with the county involving the Camp Manakiki land it owns located on the west side of Lake Waconia.
The Manakiki deal is unrelated to the Lake Waconia Regional Park acquisition and will need to play its course independently of the park project, Hemze said.
“We thought we had a verbal agreement for the (park) purchase and the Pauls were pursuing the other development,” Hemze said. “In anticipation of that, they’ve been waiting.”
Hemze assured the decision making process was not connected between the two projects, but it seems the family is first pursuing the Manakiki piece before finalizing the park parcel. The Carver County Board will oversee the purchase agreements for both the Manakiki and Lake Waconia Regional Park agreements.
The Manakiki purchase was on the March 19 planning commission agenda, after the board of adjustment granted an outstanding variance. Once approved by the planning commission, the Manakiki item would have to be approved by the Carver County Board at a future meeting, likely in mid-April at the earliest.
“It looks like the driver is really this Manakiki piece right now,” Hemze said. “Hopefully once that development is finalized, we can move ahead with the purchase of the park property.”
Hemze said the county was not premature in announcing the park land acquisition last November, and hopes a resolution can be reached soon.
“Hopefully, as soon as possible so we can move ahead and finalize the obtaining of grant dollars from the Met Council and get the parcel under our ownership,” he said.
The county had negotiated a purchase price of $3.25 million for the park land acquisition and will receive full reimbursement for the purchase. The funds stem from two sources within the Metropolitan Council, including the Parks and Trails Legacy Fund, as well as the Acquisition Opportunity Fund.
If there is interest in changing the agreed-upon purchase price, Hemze said the new price would have to be authorized by the board, but there has been no talk of changes as of now.
If the purchase of the additional park land is ultimately approved, it would add more than 19 acres to Lake Waconia Regional Park, including 890 feet of shoreline. The county has plans to build a public boat access site along this shore, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources.
Lake Waconia Regional Park supports over 100,000 visitors annually. Early concepts for the park were developed in 1975, with a master plan having been released in 1996.

Contact Melissa Marohl at melissa.marohl@ecm-inc.com

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