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This map outlines the improvements that will be made to the Irving and John Anderson County Park in North Branch Township thanks to a $780,225 Legacy grant given through the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. Graphic submitted

Isanti County’s Irving and John Anderson Park will be getting a major upgrade thanks to a successful grant application that will fund park improvements.

Environmental Services Division Leader Barry Wendorf explained during the Isanti County Board meeting on Dec. 15 that Isanti County was awarded $780,225 to help fund park improvements at the Irving and John Anderson County Park (27241 Furman St. NE, North Branch) through a Legacy award through the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. Wendorf explained the grant requires a $140,000 local match that will be paid through the park reserve fund.

The park improvements will begin on July 1, 2022, and go through June 30, 2024. The funds will be used for items that were included in the grant application, including a 1-mile paved trail, two gravel parking lots (one of which is for horse/dog trailers), a permanent restroom, four boardwalks leading through wetlands, interpretive and wayfinding sign kiosks, a 5-acre fenced off-leash dog area with amenities including a picnic shelter and picnic tables, along with a well and drinking fountain. Wendorf said all of these improvements were part of the park master plan completed in 2019.

“We are elated to have been selected for this grant from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, which will allow us to construct accessible trails, boardwalks, and a restroom along with a 5-acre off-leash dog area,” Wendorf said. “Area residents and visitors already enjoy the relaxation and beauty they find at Irving & John Anderson County Park, and this needed funding will make their visits better than ever.”

Wendorf reminded the board that the recommendations from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission will be brought to the Minnesota Legislature during the upcoming session. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources administers the Legacy grants on behalf of the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. The Legacy funds will not be available to Isanti County until the recommendations move through the legislative process.

“This is our largest grant award for development,” Wendorf said.

Wendorf reiterated the dog park will allow owners to unleash their dogs, but it is an enclosed area.

“This park does have a lot of dog walkers and it’s difficult to have everyone keep their dog on a leash, so this gives them a way to unleash their dog,” Wendorf said.

Wendorf said the park improvements will give horse riders more trails, but the horses will not be allowed on the paved trails.

“This would also give them access to the existing park trails in Anderson Park, which is a total of 404 acres,” Wendorf said. “So if you’re riding a horse, typically you want an hour or two of time length. You don’t want to trailer your horse for a half an hour of trail use, and Anderson Park will give them that experience and opportunity.”

Commissioner Greg Anderson thanked Wendorf for all his hard work.

“I would say sound the horn and congratulations, Barry; this is a job well done. This is a significant award,” Anderson said.

In other action the board:

• Adopted the final 2022 budget in the amount of $53,194,605 and 2022 levy in the amount of $25,775,931. Finance Director Kelsey Lakeberg noted the levy amount is $295,775 less than what was presented at the county’s truth-in-taxation hearing on Dec. 2.

• Approved the 2022 commissioner salaries of $37,141.

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