The city of East Bethel has a tentative parks plan for the next five years.
On a unanimous vote June 24, the East Bethel City Council approved the parks capital improvement plan for 2020-2024.
City Administrator Jack Davis noted that any project timing beyond 2020 was subject to change, but the plan gives the city a funding plan and a list of projects.
The 2020 projects on tap and the rough estimates include a pavilion at Norseland Manor Park ($40,000), playground equipment at Eveleth and Carlisle ($25,000 each), and miscellaneous park projects and tree plantings ($5,000).
For 2021, the projects may include a new playground ($125,000) and trail ($50,000) at Booster West Park, and a dog park at Norseland Manor Park ($30,000).
Council Member Randy Plaisance is concerned about the number of vandalism incidents that have taken place at Norseland Manor Park, which have included graffiti and vehicles driving on the ball field. He thinks that investing in the dog park first over the pavilion makes the most sense.
“If you put (in a) dog park, there will be more usage than if you put the pavilion there. That should have more priority, considering there has been vandalism in that park,” he said.
But there wasn’t enough support to flip the project priorities for this park. Council Member Tim Harrington is not even keen on the project.
“$30,000 for a dog park bothers me,” Harrington said. “I’d rather ... spend that on playground equipment. I’d actually like to see them move the dog park back a couple more years.”
Other major projects included in the plan beyond 2021 include a new ball field fence and irrigation system at Norseland Manor Park, new ball field lights and skateboard equipment at Booster West Park, a new trail segment at John Anderson Park and a new playground and skateboard park at Coon Lake Beach.
A separate action the council took June 24 was to approve a budget of approximately $20,000 for a new playground at Northern Boundaries Park.
This playground was not going to be replaced for at least three to five years, but the plastic slide cracked this past winter. The slide needed to be removed and a plywood barrier was placed over the opening.
The city received an estimate of $7,000 just to replace the slide. Due to the playground being 23 years old, staff and the council felt the best long-term solution is to replace the equipment now.
The swing set is still in good condition and will remain.
Speed study on County Road 26
A group of East Bethel residents asked for a study of traffic speed on County Road 26 (229th Avenue) between East Front Boulevard and County Road 24 (237th Avenue).
There is no cost to the city and Anoka County will officially request that the Minnesota Department of Transportation complete the study.
The petitioners hope to lower the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph. A letter attached to the petition summarized the residents’ concerns. The road has sharp curves and hills, areas of limited visibility, little or no paved shoulders, and no turn lanes or bypass lanes at intersections — which have all factored into multiple crashes, in their opinion.
In one section of 229th Avenue, residents must cross the street to get to their mailboxes.
“I think it’s a good idea to reduce the speed limit,” Council Member Suzanne Erkel said.
There are no guarantees MnDOT will recommend lowering the speed limit from the current 55 mph, Davis said. MnDOT could even recommend a higher speed limit, but he does not expect that.
“Generally, unless there are extreme circumstances, there may not be a lowering of the speed,” he said. “I think this is going to be one of those borderline situations, but it won’t hurt to examine it.”
Public Works Manager Nate Ayshford highlighted the results of a speed study that the city completed on this same stretch of road from April 29 to May 5. It showed that about 25% of the vehicles were speeding every day and most of them were going no more than 60 mph (5 mph over the speed limit).