Fort Ridgely Master Plan
To the editor:
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to clarify a few issues that were included in the Dec. 14 letter written by Friends of Fort Ridgely President John Fritsche about the Fort Ridgely State Park master plan amendment.
We invite the public to review of all of the master planning process documents on the DNR website, which reflect six months of public input provided through an online questionnaire, several face-to-face stakeholder group meetings, and recommendations from a 15-member Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC).
The DNR appreciates the thoughtful deliberation of the CAC and the hundreds of respondents to the agency’s online questionnaire about the potential future directions for the park. The resulting master plan amendment is a forward-thinking vision for the future of Fort Ridgely State Park.
The purpose of the master planning process, as outlined in the charter for the CAC, was to make recommendations on an alternative future for the park after the golf course closed. During the same timeframe, the DNR actively worked with the City of Fairfax and the Fort Ridgely Friends Group on a potential concession agreement to continue running the golf course. However, the final proposal was not viable because it relied on alcohol sales, motorized cart rental, and other activities that the Friends Group were previously informed were inconsistent with state law and rules. Standard contract protocols for concessionaires, such as facility leases and revenue sharing, were also not observed in the proposed agreement, the terms of which protect the public interest.
DNR is committed to managing and investing in this beautiful and historically significant state resource into the future. In recent months, we have begun structural evaluation and assessment work for the amphitheater restoration and have invested nearly $400,000 in the repair of two trail bridges in the park. Once the master plan amendment is completed, DNR will also be able to make additional investments to improve facilities consistent with the System Plan and available funding from the legislature.
Public comments on the draft master plan amendment can be submitted until Jan. 6, 2017 using an online public feedback tool, or by writing to Rachel Hopper, Policy and Planning Supervisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 500 Lafayette Road, St Paul, MN 55155.
Southern Regional Manager
DNR Division of Parks and Trails