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Longer-term, nonprofits and others working to increase public open space also make the point that parks tend to increase property values nearby, raising the tax yield.
Themig did acknowledge, though, that that’s more true in more built-up areas than it is in more wide-open rural areas, where “open space” is a given.
Doyle-Kennefick has been identified as the most important natural resource area in its part of the county: about 500 acres so far, planned to rise to 914 acres, from St. Catherine Lake on the north to Lennon Lake on the south.
County planning documents boast of — apart from farmland — 650 acres of natural land, “300 of which are native plant communities.” Species found there include Blanding’s turtles, sandhill cranes and bald eagles, among more than 100 bird species thought to be present within the park.
The added parkland comes in a 10-year period in which Dakota and Scott Counties are easily among the leaders in the seven-county metro area in luring dollars and adding acres for regional parks.
Indeed, at the very same Met Council committee meeting at which Chairman Gary Cunningham hailed the Doyle-Kennefick parcel as a “beautiful piece of land down there,” Dakota County moments later was seeking about half a million bucks to buy land along the Mississippi River for Spring Lake Park Reserve that Cunningham described as looking like “mostly water,” adding:
“I’m still struggling with the water. Why are we buying the water? I don’t understand.”
Staffers explained that it’s 3,200 feet of shore land that will become public, and that it looks so odd because the platting of the land still dates from the 19th century, when a dam had not yet backed up water over much of the site.
In Scott County, the request is to contribute $983,000, with a 25 percent local match to cover the $1.3 million. Scott hopes to recoup the rest as well from the Met Council later on, for a facility that is intended for use by folks all over the metro area. But the council isn’t offering guarantees.
David Peterson • 952-746-3285