The Dakota County Board is considering a one-year moratorium on new wells that draw more than 10,000 gallons a day or a million gallons a year. A public hearing and vote are scheduled for May 5.

The call for a moratorium, which would not apply to replacement of existing wells, was prompted after Lakeville-based Progressive Rail proposed drilling two wells in Randolph last year. Water drawn from the wells, projected to be 500 million gallons annually, would be shipped to the southwestern U.S. State officials said the proposal was highly unlikely to win approval.

But Commissioner Joe Atkins said a company could possibly get permission to drill into another aquifer, which he opposes. A yearlong moratorium would provide enough time to look at the long-term impacts, he said.

“We have water quantity issues of our own,” he said.



County buys acreage for Pine Point Park

The Washington County Board last week approved the $776,500 purchase of nearly 50 acres for Pine Point Regional Park in Stillwater Township.

The Metropolitan Council will pay 75% of the purchase price and the county will pay the balance through its Land and Water Legacy Program, a voter-approved fund used for land conservation.

After the board learned that the property owner was interested in selling the parcel, it authorized and reviewed a land appraisal and then made an offer. Both sides negotiated the purchase agreement.

The vacant property is on N. 120th Street, the northern boundary of the park. Pine Point contains forests, lakes and marshes, and features 5 miles of trails for biking, bird-watching, hiking and horseback riding.



Council waives April rent for restaurant

The Spring Lake Park City Council is waiving this month’s rent and pushing back the May payment for a two-year-old restaurant that’s leasing a city-owned property.

Sunset Grill, 8466 Central Av., closed March 16 because of the pandemic and hopes to reopen in early May, in accord with state orders. It hasn’t offered food takeout or delivery and lacks the revenue to pay its $7,500 monthly lease.

Owner Ray McManus signed a lease with the city in January 2018. City Administrator Daniel Buchholtz said officials want to see the restaurant stick around and that the measure is “our way of helping them through a difficult time.”

If Sunset Grill receives a federal loan to offset revenue losses, owners will backpay the April rent, Buchholtz said.



City closes Westwood pickleball courts

Bloomington officials closed eight dedicated pickleball courts at Westwood Park last week until further notice, due to COVID-19 concerns.

The tight layout of the Westwood courts makes it difficult for players to practice social distancing. However, people may go to Bloomington’s other parks to use courts striped for both pickleball and tennis.

Officials are continuing to evaluate parks and amenities to protect the public while trying to meet the needs of those wanting to stay active outside. Closures and cancellations can be found on the city website.