The city of Cloquet has accepted a proposal to begin designing a master plan for Pine Valley Park.

The plan aims to secure state funding for future park improvement projects and will center around the more natural elements of the park, such as trails and the ski chalet. It will exclude focus on the two hockey arenas, according to Public Works Director Caleb Peterson.

When completed, the master plan is likely to qualify Pine Valley for “Regional Designation” through the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, allowing the city to apply for state Legacy Funds. In 2008, voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. The amendment increases the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1%, and additional sales tax revenue is distributed into four funds, including one designated for parks and trails.

Peterson explained it may also help to push forward the local-option sales tax request by the city, which is pending in the state Legislature.

“This all seems to fit together very well,” he said.

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After research and conversations with city staff, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. submitted a bid for $24,500 to facilitate the planning process, which the City Council unanimously accepted Tuesday, April 6. SEH, which has worked with the city in the past, is a national company with 10 Minnesota offices.

The planning process will be considered a fund balance expense because there was no money allocated toward the project in the 2021 budget.

According to the schedule proposed by SEH, the first critical milestone is set for later this month, with a Park Board virtual kick-off meeting, followed by a virtual open house meeting in May.

Plan policy states that the process must engage park users, stakeholders and neighbors to ensure community needs are met. Because of this, residents will be encouraged to attend the open house and offer input as the plan develops, with a final draft to be completed in September.

SEH shared that they also plan to use information gathered through community outreach around the park that the city completed a few years ago.