Stillwater explores ways to pay for parks, other projects

Stillwater officials say they need $12 million to develop new parks along the St. Croix River.

Work at Bridgeview Park, located south of downtown, comes with a price tag of more $8.6 million. It includes $3 million for a transient boat dock and $1.4 million for a boat launch.

North of downtown, city officials want to spend $3.4 million to develop Lumberjack Landing. Among the items on their wish list: renovation of the former Aiple residence; a spur trail to Brown’s Creek State Trail; a canoe launch, dock and trail slide, and a picnic shelter.

The parks will be a regional draw, city officials say, and they think state money should be used to pay for them. They’re asking the Legislature for $12 million in bonding for the two park projects and $500,000 to renovate the gazebo at Lowell Park in downtown Stillwater.

“People will be coming from all over to enjoy those parks,” said City Council member Mike Polehna. “It’s not just the local residents. They’re already a big regional draw, but it’s getting to be almost a national draw. That’s why we need to go out for bonding.”

Tourists come to Stillwater from around the upper Midwest, including St. Louis, Chicago, Des Moines and Omaha, said Polehna, who worked for Washington County Parks for 37 years.

“We’re lucky,” he said. “The St. Croix River is a national draw — it’s a National Scenic Riverway.”

City officials, however, are already working on other options if their bid for bonding money fails. The Stillwater City Council on