East Grand Forks City Council members narrowly agreed to ask for money to pay for a scaled-down plan to renovate parts of LaFave Park.
Council members voted 4-3 on Tuesday to apply for a Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission grant that, they hope, would pay for about 75 percent of a $327,000 plan to renovate the waterfront park. The city would be responsible for the remaining 25 percent -- about $81,000 -- and East Grand Forks officials said they plan to pursue the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for money to build a new boat ramp at the park’s northwest corner.
The boat ramp plans and broader park renovation were originally part of a single grant proposal brought to council members late last month, but some of them balked at its $1.6 million price tag, which would have cost the city about $400,000 spread out over a few years. At a work session last week, council members opted to break the plan into chunks, and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Reid Huttunen brought back the $327,000 phase they approved Tuesday.
That phase would plant some trees in the park, seed new grass and build an access road up to where the hoped-for new ramp would go.
But separating the boat ramp project from the larger slate of park renovations didn’t seem to sit well with some council members, who questioned the wisdom of applying for money to make changes to infrastructure that would connect with the new ramp when funding for it hadn’t been secured.
“If we’re not going to do the boat ramp, then why do phase one?” asked Clarence Vetter, who represents the city’s first ward.
Second Ward Council Member Dale Helms worried that the Red River, for which the National Weather Service issued a flood warning this week, could swamp whatever renovations the city makes. He suggested mowing and landscaping near the water’s edge.
“We could still make it look pretty nice without putting a whole lot of money into it,” Helms said.