Popular park may get fixup

FAIRMONT – An attempt last year to obtain a state grant to improve Cedar-Hanson Park northwest of Trimont was unsuccessful. Now the county is looking at scaled-down plans that might finally get the park the upgrade it needs for its heavy use.

Martin County Engineer Kevin Peyman said Tuesday that building a restroom and showers, including septic and sewer, along with providing the other side of the park with water and electricity, would cost $300,000. This is down from the $500,000 price tag used when applying for a Parks Legacy Grant from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment last fall.

“We currently have $60,000 in our park fund,” Peyman said. “Out comes the pay for the caretakers and the day-to-day expenses, and usually some project comes up, so we use about $30,000 to $35,000 a year.”

Peyman estimates that if the county goes forward with the new proposal, it could take the parks department five to seven years to pay it back.

“We have no more projects planned for any of the parks for seven or eight years after that,” Peyman said. “This would essentially finish Cedar-Hanson Park, and then after that we could concentrate on the others.”

Cedar-Hanson Park is the largest and most-used county park. It is a favorite spot for campers, with electrical sites for RVs, and another side with more traditional camping. Cedar-Hanson also brings in the most revenue, with $20 per night camping fees for electric sites and $10 per night for non-electrical sites.

While no action was taken Tuesday, Martin County commissioners told Peyman to keep exploring and getting details on the proposed project.

In other business, commissioners offered the Martin County emergency manager position to Erin Busta, after LuAnn Akres declined to accept it.

“She was one of our top choices,” Commissioner Elliot Belgard said of Busta. “She has a bachelor’s degree in emergency management, and is very high energy.”

The board approved the hiring of Busta, contingent on a background check. She is scheduled to begin work April 6.

Commissioners also approved the re-appointment of Peyman as county engineer. His current term ends April 30, and the board approved another four-year term to last until April 2018. Peyman has been the engineer since April 2001.