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Grant to Help Minnesota Public Park Expand

February 17, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Because the third time was the charm, a major upgrade is in store for a Le Sueur County, Minn., camping area.

Lake Washington Park will be the beneficiary of a thrice-applied-for $400,000 state grant that, combined with a requisite contribution from the county, will mean $534,000 in improvements, according to the Mankato Free Press.

“We’re starting from scratch,” Le Sueur County Parks Director Don Reak said of the humbly appointed park that currently has four campsites, only one with an electrical hookup.

Upgrade plans call for installation of 29 gravel pads for campers — all with electricity — a dump station, shower house and, if funding allows, a picnic shelter and playground equipment.

Reak said the improvements are part of a master plan for the 156-acre park on the northwest side of Lake Washington. The wish list includes a swimming pool, various recreational amenities and a boardwalk through a marshy area.

The park has nearly 500 feet of lakeshore frontage but there are no plans for a motorized watercraft access.

A park focal point is a metal girder 19th century footbridge over a creek that once spanned State Highway 22.

Funding for the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trail Legacy grant was created from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by voters in 2008.

“Without that, we’d probably still be waiting,” Reak said.

The Parks and Trail Legacy program awarded state parks and trail systems nearly $1.7 million in grants for upgrade projects.

Reak said with most private campgrounds in the county having gone to seasonal camping fee packages, the Lake Washington Park’s plans for a nightly fee format will provide a more affordable alternative for many families.

County Board member Bill Stangler said the plan won’t compete with the seasonal private campgrounds because stays in the Lake Washington Park likely would be limited to one week.

He also said the area’s businesses stand to benefit from an additional influx of campers.

“This is going to be a winning situation for the people in the county, and in the area.”

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