by Amy Doeun
About 30 people attended an open house hosted by Isanti County Parks Jan. 17. Barry Wendorf, Isanti County parks director, was present at the meeting, and he talked about future upgrades at one of the most popular parks in the area.
Irving and John Anderson Park is the newest park in the system. It was purchased in 2007. Before that, the property was owned by the Anderson family since the 1800s as agricultural and forest land. The county recently added 80 acres to the park and received a state grant through the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant. The park boasts a large group picnic shelter, three board walks, 5 miles of trails, including 1 mile of gravel trails, and “a natural play area that brings a lot of people out as well,” Wendorf said. “It is not like any other play structure around.”
The grant will fund further upgrades to the 254-acre park.
“The main goal of the open house was to inform people of the proposed development,” Wendorf said. “We will do 10 projects through 2019, including a permanent restroom, drinking fountain, observation platform, and a play hill for climbing on one side and sledding on the other.”
Wendorf added, “We have some canoes now, but it is limited to more experienced canoeist.”
The park will also expand its American Disability Act accessible features.
“(The upgrades) will make it available to a broader community of people. We will also add additional parking and increase ADA accessible trails.”
Wendorf was especially proud of the boardwalks in the park.
“They provide a whole different experience than other areas of the park. The park has a really nice mixture of prairie, wetlands, oak (savannah). It is a really good example of the Anoka Sand Plain.”
Wendorf noted the focus for the parks employees is natural resources.
“We try to manage all of our park lands for native vegetation,” he said.
The whole project will cost $220,000. The grant covers $180,000. The remaining $40,000 will come from Isanti County Park Reserves.
The open house had 10 stations, one for each of the proposed projects. Wendorf said volunteers from Friends of Anderson Park (local volunteers that have been providing help with planning) have been “instrumental throughout the park history.”
The volunteers were available to answer questions, and each station had a comment area.
“We had some really great comments,” Wendorf said. “For example, some people said they wanted the restroom area to have a more rustic look, maybe with field stones and logs.”
For the drinking fountain, some people liked the idea of an ADA accessible push button fountain and some liked the idea of a pump to manually bring water to the fountain.
“There were also a few comments regarding solar, rather than bringing electricity into the park,” Wendorf said.
The projects “will happen in no particular order, starting in the spring,” Wendorf noted, explaining that they have until June 30, 2019, to complete the projects.