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Crookston council rejects RV park

Jane Sims, left, speaks out against an RV park in Crookston's Castle Park while other supporters hold signs at a rally before the Crookston City Council meeting Tuesday. The Council voted against the RV park. Photo by Charly Haley, Herald staff

CROOKSTON — Plans for an RV park in the popular Castle Park were voted down by the Crookston City Council Tuesday in response a movement to protect the nature area.

Nearly 100 members of the public gathered at the council meeting, opposing the RV park.

“Castle Park is a natural wonder, a green space with trees dating back 250 years,” council member Gary Willhite said at a public rally before the meeting. Willhite later voted against the RV park.

The proposal was for a 4½-acre private development with campsites for recreational vehicles. About two acres of the proposed RV park would have come from the 28-acre, city-owned Castle Park and the other 2½ acres would have been from a private seller.

When City Council voted Tuesday, its eight members were split, leaving it up to Mayor Dave Genereux to make the final call.

“I’m not in favor. I think the citizens have spoken and we need to work harder to find somewhere better (for the RV park),” Genereux said before the vote.

When the mayor voted “no,” the crowd at the meeting roared with applause, many of them standing up and cheering. After the meeting, people hugged and honked their car horns in celebration.

“I think it’s very clear,” Genereux said after the council meeting, “we need to listen to the people.” He added that this situation is a good example of how citizens can make a difference in government.

The Castle Park Preservation Group and its supporters worked for months to convince the city not to develop an RV park in Castle Park. They championed Castle Park as a special nature spot, with a community-built dog park, play space and more.

Houses in Crookston had lawn signs Tuesday supporting Castle Park, and more than 600 people signed a petition against the RV park.

In recent years, the community has made efforts to rebuild Castle Park after it was used as construction storage space while Crookston’s flood protection was being built, said Shirley Iverson, of the Castle Park Preservation Group.

Those in support of the RV park wanted it to boost Crookston’s tourism and to house seasonal American Crystal Sugar workers. The city has wanted an RV park for years, but there was never funding for it until a private developer approached the city with what became the Castle Park proposal, City Administrator Shannon Stassen said.

Jane Sims, of the Castle Park Preservation Group, said the group is in favor of an RV park to help the city, just not in Castle Park.

After Tuesday’s City Council decision, the city will reconsider other sites for an RV park.

Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.
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