Christina Johnson Koshiol is excited about the possibilities. “It’s like having a little piece of the Boundary Waters in central Minnesota,” she says of the proposed Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park. “It has a mix of everything that would make it suitable for so many purposes.”
Johnson Koshiol chairs the relatively new Friends of Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park, which was formed within the past year to support the establishment of a park on the 1,200-acre YMCA Camp Manitou site. “We’re diff erent than other friends groups because there isn’t an actual park yet,” she says, “but we would like to see it happen. We get the word out and do support activities.”
The park is a joint project of the City of Monticello and Wright County. According to Marc Mattice, Wright County parks administrator, the city and county have purchased about 370 acres so far and have an agreement with the YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis to complete the purchase by the end of 2013. Th e total cost of the purchase is $20.5 million, with the city and county providing $11.5 million and the rest through other kinds of funding, including a variety of state grants.
The site has a number of natural features that will make it a remarkable park, including four lakes (Bertram, Long, Mud and First) with completely undeveloped shoreline, trails, an oak forest and 140 agricultural acres. “Finding that much undisturbed lakeshore in Wright County is probably unheard of,” says Mattice.
“So many people see uses for the land,” says Johnson Koshiol. “We’ve had interest in everything from horseback riding to Frisbee golf, geo caching, you name it. Mattice says the City of Monticello has plans to build a ball fi eld and athletic complex on the agricultural land on the site. “With today’s youth being so programmed, proving a setting like that next to a major natural resource area is hopefully going to entice the youth and their families to enjoy the natural areas as well,” he says. Under the purchase agreement, the YMCA can continue to have a day camp on the site for up to 99 years and the city and county are hoping to work with the YMCA to create joint recreation programs.
The city and county have created an advisory board to gather information and then start a master planning process to create a regional park with a wide variety of recreational opportunities.
The Friends of Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park is developing a speakers’ bureau to go out to civic organizations and other groups to talk about the plans for the park and to generate support. Although the opportunity to acquire the site is exciting to many people, Johnson Koshiol says there is controversy about
arking area. B
For more information about Friends of Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park, go to www.friendsofbertramlakes.org or visit the organizations Facebook page.