Alternative Proposals for Log House Landing Headed to City Council

Group will present options and discuss the renovations at a public meeting this week.




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Log House Landing from across the river at twilight
Log House Landing (Greg Seitz, St. Croix 360)

The Friends of the Log House Landing will share options to address erosion at Log House Landing with Scandia’s elected officials tomorrow night. The city council workshop will be held at the Scandia Community Center, starting at 6:30 p.m. It is open to the public and the landing renovations are the first major item on the agenda.

In an email to St. Croix 360, group spokesperson Pam Plowman Smith wrote, “We have worked to canvas the community and have consulted with many local professionals for input and suggestions… The results of these efforts have convinced us that there are several less costly solutions to address the erosion in a way that better preserves the rural character and native ecology of the Landing.”

The group has developed two alternatives that they will present at the workshop, saying they hope for “a positive and collaborative exchange.” The city’s current $400,000 plan to widen and pave the access road and landing is seen as a drastic proposal for a site that has been a landing since at least when Scandinavian immigrants stepped off steamboats there in the 1850s.

The Country Messenger reports that the alternatives are based on plans developed by the Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District. The district is involved financially in the project, but has not yet agreed to help pay for the city’s proposal:

While there seems to be consensus that improvements are needed at the site, the Friends are concerned that the scope of the project has grown too large—spurred by the requirements of a grant from the Department of Natural Resources—and would change the rural character of the landing and road leading to it.

“I approached the mayor [Randall Simonson] after the July 2 meeting,” Smith said, “and said there’s a group of concerned citizens and we would like to have an opportunity to work with the city to discuss what the community interests are … About a week ago we were told by the city that if they’re going to meet with us they want alternative plans, not just suggestions.”

In its search for alternative plans, Friends of the Log House Landing discovered that the Watershed had previously drawn plans on its website that could potentially be used as the basis for a new plan.

“There were some concepts the Watershed came up with in 2012 and 2013,” Smith said. “I talked to Kristina Handt, [Scandia’s] city administrator, and she said they had been ready to move forward on the full-access option. That was going to cost a little over $200,000, and that was a proposed split between the Watershed and the city.

“They were ready to move forward with that until they found out about the grant,” Smith continued. “The grant was for $200,000, but [after changes were made to the plan to meet grant requirements] the cost of the project almost doubled.

The city reports that survey work has filled in some of the details about impacts, “The preliminary survey identifies 19 deciduous trees ranging in size from 6 inches to 30 inches in diameter, one pine tree 24 inches in diameter and one dead pine18 inches in diameter that would need to be removed to complete the project.  The existing gravel surface of 16 feet would be widened to 26 to 32 feet and be paved.  The boat ramp area would not increase in size but would be paved and include a concrete ramp to control sediment flow into the St. Croix River.”

In a letter to the city council, the St. Croix River Association provided five specific goals it hopes the proposal addresses:

  1. Preserve Wild and Scenic Values. SCRA serves as the Friends group for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. We strongly encourage Scandia to follow the National Park Service’s 2001 Cooperative Management Plan for the lower St Croix which reads in part “There should be no new or expanded boat ramps or car-trailer parking on the Lower St. Croix….State and local units of government are strongly encouraged to restrict parking adjacent to all launch ramps, public and private, on lands under their jurisdiction.”
  2. Maintain Water Quality. The sediment erosion from the road and boat ramp degrades the water quality of both the River and the adjacent trout stream, and also impedes access to the river. The road erosion must be remediated so that reliable access is available and water quality standards of the River and trout stream are maintained.
  3. Request a Variance to Minimize the Road Width. We strongly encourage Scandia to request a variance from design standards contained in the city’s grant request, so that the road is no wider than necessary to accommodate access by emergency vehicles. This will preserve the rural character and heritage of this historic landing site, and minimize safety issues that are likely to arise from a wider roadway.
  4. Improve the Boat Ramp. We believe that the boat ramp section of Log House Landing should be constructed to industry standards and designed to minimize sediment run-off.
  5. Protect Natural Resources. We believe that 205th Street should be rebuilt in such a way that the road surface preserves the area’s rural character, that the road be as narrow as possible, and that as few trees as possible be disturbed during the road reconstruction. These trees are crucial to maintain the viewshed of the river, improve and prevent additional soil and bank erosion, and preserve the rural character and local environmental heritage.

All interested members of the public are encouraged to attend the city council workshop at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 3rd. The Scandia Community Center is located at 14727 209th St. N.


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Alternative Proposals for Log House Landing Headed to City Council