Two Anoka County regional parks have more than a million dollars at stake in this year’s bonding bill at the Legislature.

The Metropolitan Council is asking the state for about $1.1 million for construction and upkeep at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the Riverfront Regional Park, in Fridley.

The projects are part of the Met Council’s $11 million request for improvements at metro-area regional parks. While the House’s bonding proposal recommends $9 million for the regional parks projects, the governor offered just $5 million and the Senate allocated $4 million.

The Legislature faces a May 19 deadline for adjournment, and the bonding bill is expected to be one of the last measures completed.

Of the two Anoka County projects, work on the Coon Rapids park is priority No. 1, said John VonDeLinde, the county’s parks and community services division manager. The Met Council is requesting $369,000 for the project, which would include rebuilding the boat launch’s parking lot and access road. Plans also call for adding a courtesy dock and washing station to help boaters get rid of invasive species that might be attached to their watercraft.

The park opened in 1978 and still has much of its original infrastructure, though some minor repairs have been done. “By and large, it’s the original concrete and asphalt,” VonDeLinde said.

Other smaller projects could be undertaken at the Coon Rapids park, including remodeling the visitor center’s restrooms and repairing some of the roads, parking lots and walkways.

These projects, like those at the Riverfront Regional Park, are contingent on how much funding the state provides. If there’s only partial funding, the money will be split proportionately among all parks in the Met Council’s request, said Arne Stefferud, the manager of the agency’s regional parks and natural resources program.

It’s been more than a quarter-century since major work was done to Riverfront. Now, VonDeLinde said the park’s southern half needs the most improvement.

The Met Council is seeking $770,000 for a variety of needs, including a new entrance road and sign, and renovations to sidewalks and a parking lot.

Building a new 12-hole disc golf course at the park also is a possibility. Before the course could be built, VonDeLinde said landscaping and grading would be necessary, as the park is fairly flat.

“I think it would add a lot of interest to the landscape,” he said. “It’d be a unique course.”

The course wouldn’t be too challenging, VonDeLinde said, and would stay at 12 holes, since there isn’t room for a full 18.


Cody Nelson is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.