As Carver County moves ahead with utility, grading and parking improvements to Lake Waconia Regional Park, the county also will enter into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a public water access at the park. County commissioners authorized that action at their May 7 meeting.

The DNR acquired a five-acre parcel of county park land several years ago on the southeast shore of Lake Waconia for use as a watercraft access site, but it remains undeveloped to date.

County parks officials indicate that efficiencies in construction and delivery of services can be gained if boat access construction and park development work are done in lockstep with each other. So, the DNR will bring $700,000 in 2019 to help fund the boat access, and the county will manage the overall project.

Funding for mainland park area improvements will come from $1.5 million in state bonds to be matched with $1.5 million in county funds. At its last meeting May 21, the county board authorized advertisement for phase one development of the regional park and DNR public water access.

Bids are expected in mid-July and work is slated to begin later this summer on the heels of the most active part of the parks season in June-July. Starting Aug. 1, Lake Waconia Regional Park will look considerably different, park officials note, and public access may be limited as crews start to clear areas, grade and dig. The park shelter and bathrooms will be removed too. In fact, portable bathroom facilities are already in place.

Meanwhile, offshore from the park on Coney Island of the West, vegetation removal and trail clearing work is expected to begin in June. At their May 7 meeting, commissioners awarded a contract to Husky Construction Inc. for cleanup and development work.

That work includes clearing a 15-foot wide east to west trail across the island and additional 8- to 12-foot clearings to create a trail link and access to other portions of the island. The contract award amounts to just over $220,000.

Challenges involve mobilizing crews and materials for the several hundred-yard trip to the island, also working around the ruins still on the island.

County officials note that because of the historical nature of Coney Island, some of those ruins will become features of the new park, so as trails are developed another phase will involve having archeologists access those remnants to determine their historical significance and how they may or may not fit in to the future regional park.

All of the work slated for this year is part of Carver County’s long-term master park plan, explains Carver County parks director Marty Walsh

In the meantime, parks official remind that Coney Island remains off limits to the public to protect the future park and the public. The ruins are a hazard and public safety is an even greater concern as vegetation removal and trail clearing begins.

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