Minnesota city officials continue to push river connection

Published 7:30 pm Sunday, August 12, 2018

MANKATO — With the Minnesota River flooding more frequently, a city’s attempt to connect residents to the water through riverfront parks and trails has become increasingly messy and expensive.

High water like the flooding this summer in Mankato dumps silt and driftwood on trails, campsites and recreational areas. Flood water can lead to damaged electrical hook-ups at RV sites, contaminated soccer fields, unsafe bike paths and washed out fencing in the city’s park.

But City Manager Pat Hentges said he doesn’t have interest in abandoning the most flood-prone portions of the city’s park system.

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“The thing I’ve seen, we want more access to the river, not less,” Hentges said, referring to long-term goals of the City Council and residents. “It seems to have been a major priority in most of our strategic plans.”

The city in the past decade or two has created new parks and new riverside trails stretching the length of the city’s western side.

“And people have applauded those investments,” Hentges said.

No cost estimates have been compiled for the clean-up from the most recent flooding. This year’s flooding doesn’t appear to have impacted the power hook-ups at the Land of Memories campground and no there were no major wash-outs on trails or parkland.

“It’s a little elbow grease and week of staff time, and they’re back in business,” Hentges said. “Like I said, it doesn’t happen every year.”