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City asks for county help in buying park land

A map of the 65-acre park proposed for Woodbury's northeast border. Graphic by Neil West

The city of Woodbury is looking to develop a 65-acre park on its northeast border and has asked Washington County to be a contributing partner.

On Tuesday, June 24, Woodbury environmental planner Steve Kernik made a presentation before the Washington County Board of Commissioners to request the county contribute about $1.8 million from its Land and Water Legacy grant program to help purchase the park land.

The city of Woodbury plans to use about $1.8 million from its open space preservation fund to purchase the land, Kernik told commissioners at the June 24 meeting.

"We really do think this is a win-win-win opportunity for everybody involved," said Kernik, referring to the advantages the park land purchase provides to the city, county and developer Dale Properties, which owns about 580 acres adjacent to the planned park site that it wants to develop over the next 20 years into a business-oriented development.

Commissioners took no formal action on the request, but expressed cautious support for Woodbury's funding request of the county and its plan use city and county dollars to preserve the 65-acre swath of forest and wetlands adjacent next to Dale Properties-owned Northeast Business Park area.

The proposed park reserve is located on the west side of Manning Avenue and about a half mile south of Hudson Road. The city's plan is to acquire 24 acres of the desired area through park dedication and purchase the remaining 41 acres from Dale Properties, which Kernik said has expressed desire to turn over the heavily forested area to the city so it can maximize its business development.

Commissioners provided the city with initial feedback on the request and said they would direct the county parks and open space advisory board to study the issue and come up with a recommendation.

The city's long-term plan for the park would be to keep most of it untouched, develop some wood chip walking and biking trails, along with a trail head and parking access to the area. The area is part of the city's greenway plan to acquire and preserve open space.

Kernik said the park is in a desirable location for the county, because it is accessible to many neighboring communities, including Afton, Oakdale, Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove.

Before the city's June 24 presentation to the county, city officials met with county commissioners Lisa Weik and Bill Pulkrabek to share their plans for the area.

Both Weik and Pulkrabek said they think the area provides a good opportunity for the city and county to develop park land and preserve open space.

Commissioners Kriesel and Myra Peterson said they had some concerns about what sort of priority the project had over other possible park projects the county has on its radar.

But Peterson said she is excited about the opportunity of including the possible park land near future a transit hub planned in the adjacent Northeast Business Park area.

Kernik said the city would likely purchase the park lands soon, but actual develop of the park is likely to be based on the development of adjacent business park and nearby by roads over several years.

Development of the business park will most likely move from west to east, Kernik said.

For more on this story, see the July 1 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin.