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City Council Puts Campground Project on Hold

By Staff | Jul 30, 2015

Plans for a campground and marina on the shores of Five Island Lake have been put on hold while costs for the facility are evaluated. Action came at the Monday, July 27, meeting of Emmetsburg City Council.

Plans call for a canal and water feature, along with camping spots, cabins and a C-Store on an 18 acre site located between the railroad trestle and Sewell Park. The property was purchased from K & R Properties in the fall of 2012, with the assistance of a $75,000 REAP?Grant.

City Administrator John Bird informed members of the City Council that preliminary cost estimates are $3.1 million for the entire project.

“We were shocked at the estimated cost,” said Bird. He suggested making two lists for the project: “must have” and “not necessary right now.”

Cost estimate to excavate the canal and pond is $690,000. Bird noted if the decision is too expensive, the water feature could be deleted. That would then delete costs for the foot bridge over the canal ($65,000) and boat ramp ($100,000).

“Something the committee stressed was having water and sewer connections at each site,” Bird told the council. A committee of people who use campgrounds have served as advisors for the project.

Engineer Neil Guess attended Monday night’s meeting. He noted there are some permits that need to be looked at as the project moves forward. He also advised that if the city moves forward with a canal and water feature, do it while the dredge is on the lake.

Councilmen Corey Gramowski and Brian Campbell agreed that the cost of $3.1 million is “out of the ballpark.” Campbell suggested taking the proposal back to committee for re-planning and either omit the lagoon or do the project in stages.

Neil Guess said the amenities could be pulled out easily and done at a later date.

Councilman Tony Kauten said he would like to see the project completed in stages. He suggested, as an example, that the cabins could be done down the road. He asked what it would take to get the campground portion off the ground.

Guess stated that the dirt work at this site will be expensive because it is an old spoil site from the dredging project. He also pointed out that a decision needs to be made on water and sewer lines.

Councilman Mike Hermansen said there has been a lot of discussion about the design and noted that the convenience store at the campground is a concern. He said there is concern about this store going into competition with private business.

“If this comes down to $3.1 million, I’m in favor of funding the dredge first,” said Hermansen. He proposed raising money for the dredge before the campground.

Councilman Bill Burdick questioned how much money has been spent on engineering for the campground so far. Guess estimated between $6,000 and $8,000 over three years.

Councilman Campbell made the motion to send the project back to committee to re-evaluate priorities for the project. All councilmen voted in favor.

In a lake-related topic, the Public Properties Committee had met prior to the council meeting to discuss slips at the public docks. There is a waiting list and some people have been on the list for a number of years.

The council voted unanimously to change the public dock waiting list procedure. When the person at the top of the list is contacted about an open dock slip, if the person does not want the space, that person’s name will be removed from the waiting list.