Detroit Lakes City Council Approves Lakefront Concepts

Detroit Lakes City Council Approves Lakefront Concepts Click to Enlarge

DETROIT LAKES, MN--One thing is for certain, Detroit Lakes residents and visitors have passion for the lake and what they hold as their own Detroit Lakes experience.

Nearly 100 people gathered at City Hall Tuesday night for a special meeting of the Detroit Lakes City Council for a public hearing followed by a vote on a development plan for the West Lake Drive Corridor.

A little background on the plan...The City hired RDG planning and design consultants, same consultants who worked on the redevelopment plan for downtown Detroit Lakes in 2008, to draw up a development plan the beach area--Detroit Lakes' greatest attraction. RDG walked the community through the planning process holding community input meetings over the course of several months. The conclusion of the planning process was Tuesday night.

The plan includes ideas, or concept designs, for five defined areas along the corridor including the Pavilion area, South Washington Avenue, the lakeside area, the lake view area, and the fairground area.

Tuesday night, at the final public hearing dozens of questions from the audience ranged from who would pay for projects, to why is so much housing included, to whether Washington Ballpark and the Pavilion will be torn down.

A barrage of hypothetical, and sometimes pointed,questions from Detroit Lakes residents Bob and Kathy were fielded with short, and sometimes more lengthy answers from Mayor Matt Brenk and RDG consultant Corey Scott. (Click on any words highlighted blue for audio)

Detroit Lakes native Fred Wright now of Moorhead said he had mixed feelings on the concept of revamping the Pavilion.

Detroit Lakes' City Administrator Kelcey Klemm says development of the beloved West Lake Drive area has been on agendas dating back to the 1960's when the mile-long beach was constructed. Klemm says there's no denying the beach front is a remarkable asset for the community. (click on any word highlighted in blue for audio)

As for who would pay for development. City staff said it would depend on the project. City Planner Larry Remmen referred the audience back to the 2008 Downtown Redevelopment project.

As far as the iconic Pavilion and Washington Ballpark, presently, they are both in disrepair. There are no immediate plans, or even near future plans to demolish them, despite rumors circulating on social media. However, council members agreed that there will be a time when the major repairs to the structures will be discussed and the community and council will have to decide what route to go.

Several members of Tuesday's audience also addressed the status of the Legion Campground which was originally included in the plan but not part of the adopted plan. However, the campground land is public property, the campground is run by the American Legion as American Legion member and Detroit Lakes Resident Tom Frank explained.

A number of long-time visitors concerned about the future of the campground as it sits on public property spoke about the campground's draw for tourists and that was what Detroit Lakes is about for them. Including this retired teacher from Fargo who spends summers with his wife "living" in the community.

Environmentalists, too, weighed in on the Development of the lake front and surrounding area. Sally Hausken who founded the Sucker Creek parks and was instrumental in building a city rain garden in the city park made her comments.

Detroit Lakes Businessman, co-owner of Lakeshirts Mark Fritz comments.

Detroit Lakes Resident, former planning commission member, Julie Herman...

Detroit Lakes Development Authority Director Tom Klyve asked the council to approve the plan.

After closing the nearly two-hour public hearing, the council voted 7-2 to accept the development plan. Council members Bruce Imolte and Barb Voss accounted for the two against the plan. Imholte wanted to wait until the next meeting to absorb all the comments, Voss was against maximum building heights for businesses. Something that wasn't included in the plan approved last night but will be included in the second reading of an upcoming ordinance.

More on the West Lake Drive Plan can be found at https://rdgusa.com/sites/detroitlakes/reports/

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