Tomorrow night, the Log House Landing special committee formed by the Scandia city council will make a recommendation for renovations at the historic river access. Assigned last fall to identify a workable plan after objections arose to a major overhaul of the landing proposed by city staff, the group has come up with a compromise that it will present to the city council, but the original plan also remains on the table.
The committee’s official recommendation will include major concessions to pave part of the road and add curb and gutters. There would be a 13-feet wide paved road with two pull-outs for passing, curb/gutter on one side, and a gravel parking and landing surface. The committee will also recommend that the paved road meander around trees where possible, to preserve as many of the site’s big iconic trees as possible, as well as the scenic and rural feel.
But Plowman Smith says the city staff is still urging for the type of major renovations that were called a “suburbanization” of the landing last summer: A two- to three-lane paved road and landing, with a 20-30 feet wide asphalt surface.
“It was a very difficult compromise to pave the road and agree to even minimal curb/gutter, but finally and reluctantly several committee members agreed to accept the paved road, provided that only the drive surface be paved and that it remain at its present narrow state and as rustic looking as possible. The consensus was that the City Council would not accept less. The City Staff position is very disconcerting,” Plowman Smith wrote in an email.
The Friends of Log House Landing say the larger proposal would be a waste of tax dollars, is out of character for the rustic river landing, and is not needed to address erosion problems and sediment runoff into the St. Croix River. It would also require harming or removing many of the big white pines and other old trees that define the site’s natural beauty, including an old-growth white pine that is almost four feet across and 130 feet tall. The landing was first recorded in the 1850s as a steamboat stop for Scandinavian immigrants arriving to start farms and new lives in the area.
A St. Croix 360 story about the issue last summer reported that the group’s petition stated a desire to “improve the historic Log House Landing in a way that preserves its rustic, secluded and rural character.”
Interested individuals are urged to attend the city council meeting Tuesday, Jan 20, or email members of the city council before the meeting at the following addresses: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a recent update on its petition site, the Friends of Log House Landing urged public participation as the final decision approaches. “The City Council is likely to make final decisions about the Log House Landing at this meeting. It is critical that the City Council hear from the people and understand that there is continued support for minimal improvements.”
The meeting will be held at the Scandia town hall at 14727 209th Street North, Scandia, MN 55073 (map). The meeting starts at 7 p.m.
Update Jan. 20
Pam Plowman Smith sent additional information:
“The Planning Commission voted to unanimously support the Log House Landing Committee recommendations last Friday. Although 4 out of the 5 P/C members expressed that a gravel road would better meet the Comprehensive Plan goals for this site. We are hopeful that the Council will accept the recommendations – they have encouraged this Committee process.
“Maintenance and erosion have always been the City’s primary reasons for wanting asphalt, even though the county has stated that there is very little long term cost difference between maintaining gravel and asphalt on a low use road. The latest argument for width was that a minimum 20’ road is needed for emergency vehicles. It is worth noting that the committee is recommending two pull-outs for passing on this low traffic volume road. This more than complies with the DNR standard for single drive lane rural roads. Emergency vehicles have successfully accessed this landing for many decades without incident. Average summer weekday parking is typically 2-4 cars and on peak weekends (including Friday afternoons) last August there were between 4-17 vehicles. Parking is limited so the traffic volume is very low.”