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

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Willow River campground considered for ATV use


August 8, 2019

A representative from the DNR brought up a proposition concerning the campground at the regular meeting of the Willow River City Council on August 5. Mary Straka from the DNR informed the council that the DNR would be hosting an information gathering meeting within the next 45 days to get the community’s input on possibly allowing ATV access to the Willow River campground. Straka stated that utilization of the campground is currently low so the DNR is looking to boost the amount of campers that use the area. The campground currently receives an average of 1,200 campers a year. They believe ATV access would be a boon.

No date or location has currently been set for the meeting. The council suggested using the school as the location. School Board Chair Dave Prachar suggested that the DNR contact the school to set up a date preferably before Labor Day. Once a date and location has been chosen, that information will be provided to the community.

Councilor Sheldon Johnson asked if the city has any say in what happens. Straka said the city is welcome to submit a unified response, but ultimately the DNR commissioner will make the final decision. Straka anticipated a decision would be made in time for the next spring season.

The council approved payment of the final bill for the contracted work on the wastewater treatment plant.

“I will say this was about a one and a half million dollar project when it was all said and done, and it was done with little to no impact to user rates,” said Jon Hergeden, who presented the final payment. “Between the Homeland Security money, the DEED grant, the City did have some insurance that they were able to use, and it’s a real testament to staff and to Vickie and your state representative.”

City Clerk Diane Nelson informed the council that they had received notice from the Department of Health that the state is increasing the drinking water service connection fee. Users will see a 28¢ increase on their monthly water bills.

Bill Olson from the Pine Lake Township Board inquired about the sand shed and if the township could purchase it. The council requested that the township come back with an offer. As long as a liability waiver of some sort was signed and the area leveled off, they were agreeable to selling the shed to the township.

Councilor Vickie Whitehouse said she was told the draft for the dam replacement is about fifty percent completed. The drafted plan includes realigning the river with the culverts and creating wildlife paths on each side. It’s estimated that work could begin as early as the end of September.

In other business, the city hasn’t received any applicants yet for the part-time position posted so a motion was passed to extend the deadline to apply to August 24th.

Clerk Nelson asked that the council consider scheduling a budget meeting to create a 5 to 10 year plan since there are big budget items coming up, such as painting the water tower. The council decided to table the issue until the next meeting.

The council passed a motion to subscribe to Beacon which allows the city to access more detailed information about real property, such as property lines.

Clerk Nelson said they received a complaint about ATVs driving too fast on Willow Street so additional speed signs were put up.

The next regular meeting of the city council is set for September 2 at 7 p.m.


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