The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday night approved the Bridgeview Park master plan.
The Bridgeview Master Plan will include the Loop Bike Trail as a mitigation item for the St. Croix River Crossing Project, walking trails, a picnic area, a DNR dock, green space, the Shoddy Mill and Warehouse buildings and a municipal dock.
One of the most anticipated parts of the $10.7 million plan for the 17-acre Bridgeview Park on the south end of downtown, is the prospect of a municipal dock.
The council on Tuesday approved a “target location” for public docking in the area between Nelson Street and the Bergstein buildings in Bridgeview Park.
Exactly where the dock will be located — and what it will look like — will be decided at a later date.
“There have been questions about the location,” Community Development Director Bill Turnblad said. “But it was unanimous that the closer you have it to downtown, the better.”
One option for public docking that piqued the council’s interest was leasing St. Croix Boat & Packet’s transient slips and converting them to public boat slips for two years. After that, the lease could be continued, or other options could be pursued.
“Essentially, this would be an opportunity to give us experience in the municipal dock business,” Turnblad said. “It wouldn’t preclude any of the other options. Maybe in two years –if (the council) decides– we need to get bigger, and do something different, city staff could still look at the other options.”
Under the lease option, the city’s maintenance responsibilities would only be for the slip structures, not the dock itself, Turnblad said. There would be no up-front capital costs, and the public docking could be offered as early as this summer.
Currently, the docks are privately owned by St. Croix Boat & Packet — and charge for usage — but the city of Stillwater requires that the slips are offered to the public, Turnblad said. If the city leased the slips, the docks could be operated — with no user fee — and marketed differently.
“Most of the boaters in Stillwater keep their slips in Stillwater, so a public dock doesn’t do us a whole lot of good,” Mayor Ted Kozlowski said. “We know where the public slips are in Hudson, Prescott, Afton and everywhere else. That’s the problem here: no one outside of Stillwater knows they exist. (Leasing the slips) gives us the ability to remedy that.”
The problem is that boaters can’t see the docks, Council Member Mike Polehna said.
“People know we have public docking, but no one can find it because the slips are hidden behind huge boats,” he said. “Maybe we need a sign on our property saying public docking around the corner, and that way, we’re killing two birds with one stone.”
It sounds like the same issue the city has with the Public Parking Ramp, Council Member Dave Junker quipped. No one knows it’s there.
“We’re pretty good at hiding our parking, aren’t we?” Kozlowski countered.
The council will discuss the leasing options later this month.
“Overall I think this is a great plan,” Polehna said, noting that public docking at Kolliner Park is still an option. “It’s something we can implement and it will be a great amenity for the public. I’m just not sold on the docks yet.”
The build-out of the Bridgeview Park plan would happen in five phases. Specific dates have not been set for each phase, they could occur one to three years apart.
The overall timeframe for plan implementation would then be 5 – 15 years, or longer, Turnblad said. The open-ended timing takes some pressure off of funding, since about 50% of the estimated $10.7 million total project cost could be the city’s responsibility.
Examples of the four locations for a municipal dock are:
Option 1: Construct a 16-slip municipal dock next to the Bergstein buildings in Bridgeview Park. This could cost $2 million and take up to 5 years to complete.
Option 2: Lease St. Croix Boat & Packet’s transient slips and convert them to public boat slips for two years. After that, the lease could be continued, or other options could be pursued.
Option 3: Reconstruct the St. Croix Boat & Packet dock by reorienting the extension to the south instead of to the north. The result would be room to construct a new municipal dock where the old city dock was, immediately adjacent to the Dock Café. This option would also require the relocation of the Avalon.
Option 4: Build a dock where the Avalon is currently located. Since the dock would be new, it would be required to have ADA accessibility.The Avalaon would be relocated to the Bergstein building site.
Kolliner Park Option: Construct a dock in Kolliner Park — and boaters would walk across the Lift Bridge to get downtown.
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