Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Kettle River planning commission considers opening campground


The Kettle River Planning and Zoning Commission discussed starting a campground in the city at the meeting of the commission on Wednesday, June 6.

The city has nine acres located east of the ballfield but it is in a Wellhead Protection Area. The area is the watershed over the aquifer that supplies the city’s water.

A letter received from the Minnesota Department of Health on June 5 stated that, if a campground were located on that site, it would have to have a sewer dumping station connected to the city’s sewer system with a containment structure to capture any spills, and concrete pads with raised edges for parking RVs to contain any vehicle drips or leaks.

The letter also stated the area would not have to be capped with impermeable materials.

An estimate from 2013 stated that the estimated cost of a campground with 22 sites was $1 million.

“That’s not going to happen,” said Commissioner Mark Tollgaard.

It was suggested the campground start small with six or eight camping sites. It was suggested that a contractor be contacted to get an estimate of the costs to create the small number of sites at the campground.

There was discussion about the cost of refurbishing the city’s water tower.

Todd Lawrence, the chairman of the planning commission, said that it would take $103,000 for painting, relining and repairs to the water tower. He arrived at that amount because it was estimated that the repairs, relining and repainting has been estimated at $75,000 and there is a $28,000 water debt this year.

Lawrence again spoke about finding a sponsor to advertise on the water tower as a way of raising revenue for refurbishing it and funding the campground project.

“If we find a sponsor to fund fixing the water tower, we will need an RV park plan,” he said. “Several organizations are interested in donating funds, like the trap and skeet shooting organization. That’s an organization that is interested in coming here. We could have that by the campground.”

A letter from Lake Country Power stated that low interest loans, special expertise, reduced or free electrical service and grants are available.

“Lake Country Power will assist the Kettle River Planning Commission with any or all of the services which we provide for economic development for the potential construction of a campground in the city of Kettle River,” Manager Greg Randa stated in the letter.

A similar letter has been received from Federated Co-ops.

There was discussion about the amount of income that the campground would generate.

Six sites would generate $8,000 income for the year. A rough estimate of the cost to build those sites was $20,000.

“That would not support itself,” said Lawrence. “But at three times as large, it would pay for itself. Is it going to be profitable for the city? Maybe not at first.”

There was discussion about drawing up a plan and the cost to create the plan.

“We are not turning a wheel until the plan is put together,” said Tollgaard. “We need money to put the plan together but we can’t use money from the city.”

Commissioner Guy Collier recommended that the city get a loan for funds to refurbish the water tower.

“When people have to run to Moose Lake to wash their clothes, that’s nuts,” he said.

It was said that the planning commission can make a recommendation to the Kettle River City Council about securing a loan to refurbish the water tower.

The discussion turned back to the campground.

“There is an advantage of starting out with a basic campground,” Tollgaard said. “I think that it will sell itself because of its location. It is close to the (Soo Line) trail and highway.”

Lawrence said he would find out if fire pits have to be sealed to prevent ash residue from leaking into the wellhead protection area.

“We hope that it is done in time for Ma and Pa Kettle Days but we will see how it goes,” he added.

The commission passed a motion to contact the Minnesota Department of Health to seek approval about wetlands on the site.

It was also decided to send a letter to community households to inform them of the proposals and ask for input at upcoming meetings.

The next meeting of the Kettle River Planning Commission is scheduled for Wednesday, July 11, at noon in the Kettle River Senior Citizens Center.


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