City nearing agreement for NE parkThe city of Woodbury is one step closer to acquiring 65 acres for parkland on the northeast edge of town.
By: Scott Wente, Woodbury Bulletin
The city of Woodbury is one step closer to acquiring 65 acres for parkland on the northeast edge of town.
The city and Dale Properties, which owns the land and plans to develop the nearby Northeast Business Park, agreed to nonbinding terms for a planned land sale.
A letter of understanding spells out how Woodbury would acquire the property, which it plans to develop into low-maintenance parks with woodchip trails and picnic areas.
"They just wanted something that says we're really serious about it, that we're intending to buy it," Steve Kernik, Woodbury's environmental planner, said of Stonehenge Development, a development arm of Dale Properties.
The land is in two sites. A 15-acre West Park of woods, wetlands and farm land is west of Cottage Grove Drive and south of Hudson Road. It would be preserved as parkland through conservation easements and a dedication, not through a sale to the city.
The East Park is 65 acres of oak forest and wetlands. It is located south of Hudson Road, and some of the property abuts Manning Avenue.
Roughly 24 acres in the East Park would be preserved through park dedication required as part of Dale Properties' long-term commercial development plan.
Looking for county partnership
The city intends to purchase the remaining 41 acres, and wants Washington County to contribute half of the estimated $3.57 million purchase price.
If the county does not contribute toward the project, Kernik said, Woodbury would scale back its purchase. It still would see the 24-acre park dedication, and would buy 18 acres at roughly $1.6 million. It would use revenue from its voter-approved open space preservation fund.
Mayor Bill Hargis said it is a good opportunity. This type of park acquisition doesn't come often for a city.
"We think it's consistent with what the voters wanted," Hargis said, referring to the 2005 referendum.
With the letter of understanding in place, the city is awaiting completion of a land appraisal. Once the appraisal is finished, that information will be presented to Washington County later this fall, Kernik said.
Commissioners are deciding whether to borrow funds in 2010 for its own voter-approved open space initiative, the Land and Water Legacy program. Woodbury officials say their project fits within the county's open space program, so is deserving of funding.
County commissioners will not decide until December whether to borrow funds that could be put toward the Woodbury project.
Dave Carland of Stonehenge Development said the firm was satisfied with the letter of understanding and now, like the city and county, awaits the appraisal.
"We're on board," Carland said.
Kernik said the city is eager to move forward on the deal because until there is a binding purchase agreement, Dale Properties could entertain other offers or include some of the land in a development plan.
"They could turn around and sell it tomorrow," he said. "From their standpoint, they're taking kind of a big risk."