Posted 8/25/21

FROM PAGE 1 planned to use the site for “Entertainment/Sports/Golf Course,” in line with it prior use as a golf course on Mooers Lake. The property was later listed to Dunes LLC in December 2019, …

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planned to use the site for “Entertainment/Sports/Golf Course,” in line with it prior use as a golf course on Mooers Lake. The property was later listed to Dunes LLC in December 2019, and Mayor Bailey said that the City is working with Mr. Gustafson on the property that could now see housing, in order to potentially get a 40-acre park, more than it otherwise might.

“We have been working with the landowner to get additional acreage for more park and open space,” Bailey said, “specifically along the river.” Currently at 40 acres, the number is double what the City opted for as allowed by river access, while the entire site is just over 180 acres wide.

As to the 20 acres over and above what the city can legally acquire, Mayor Bailey said that, “the remaining 20 acres we are working with the Friends of the Mississippi River Group and the DNR to purchase from Dave Gustafson and the Developer to attach a portion to the City Park and the remainder to the Mississippi Dunes Scientific Area, he said. “The compromise is getting a 40acre park and still having some housing on the site. If the specific request from the other concerned citizens is for the entire property is to be a park, we cannot do that or require it.” As a side note, Bailey said that there had always been plans for a park art Grey Cloud, consisting of “hundreds and hundreds of acres,” if not at Mississippi Dunes specifically. So what’s the perspective of Friends of the Mississippi on the Dunes (FMR) development matter? We contacted Colleen O’Connor Toberman, who had the following to share about the matter.

“Friends of the Mississippi River believes that an expansive park at Mississippi Dunes would be a destination for residents from across Cottage Grove: a city with miles of Mississippi riverfront but almost no public river access,” she said. “We also believe that city leaders should open a robust community engagement process to gather residents’ feedback about the plan for this special site before the city makes any decisions. A riverfront property of this size is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The planning process should prioritize community participation and transparency.”

O’Connor Toberman went on as River Corridor Director for the Friends that the organization’s hope is that the city will “invest significant effort in finding a way to purchase as much of the property as possible for parkland,” and also that, “FMR has worked (for several years) with public and private partners in an attempt to bring together the needed funds for a public agency (such as the city) to purchase this property and restore it as public parkland.” Saying that were “several potential funding sources available,” O’Connor Toberman closed out by saying that the effort to save Mississippi Dunes for park use wouldn’t succeed without committed city leadership on the matter. With over 1,000 signatures as of this Monday, the change.org petition seeks to influence city officials to do just that. For those interested in networking beyond the change.org petition, meanwhile, O’Connor Toberman also said that a Facebook group had been started by a group of Cottage Grove residents, although she was careful to note that Friends of the Mississippi River had no role in creating or managing the Facebook group.

The group’s name in case readers are interested is called “Mississippi Dunes Cottage Grove,” with Just recently according to a post at the Facebook group, the Eden Prairie City Council denied a similar petition to save something called the Fredrick Miller Spring, in use for 130 years, per city planner notes. A petition to save that landmark had 3,408 signatures as of May 19 this year, before being shot down by Eden Prairie Council members. Signatures, it seems, aren’t always enough to move to action—especially if some are from Hawaii and the two coasts, as some on the Fredrick Miller Spring petition were. So is housing in fact inevitable at Mississippi Dunes? That remains to be seen, but we have the following from Mr. Gustafson.

“We feel Pulte has done a good job working with the city and coming up with a master plan that is a good fit for the property, and includes a very generous 40 acre Riverfront Park,” the listed property owner replied via email as this issue was going to print.