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December 14, 2018

11/29/2018 3:44:00 PM
Improvements result of cooperative effort for Moberg Park, downtown Chisago City

Chisago City’s Old Towne Road and the area surrounding Moberg Park have undergone extensive work over the last two construction seasons.  It’s all part of a plan to tie Chisago City together and give the blocks along Hwy. 8 a sense of place.

City Administrator John Pechman said the final bids for the new pavilion in Moberg Park will come together soon, and the structure will echo the design of the seasonal public restrooms nearing completion (see photo).  The structures echo elements of a railroad depot in honor of major contributions railroading in Chisago City’s history.  A new child play area will have a mini-locomotive and crossing sign, created by a Forest Lake company Theme Concepts.

Pechman said the restroom feature is not meant to be open in winter, but it will be a nice amenity in summer, when the Farmers’ Market will return to the park. Other projects, including a water feature,  are to be complete next summer.

Chisago County Engineer Joe Triplett says county, city and federal funds were tapped to make two-years’ worth of roadway improvements happen.  The work zone started in the south end of town, from Chisago Boulevard north, narrowing Old Towne Road (County Road 24) from 40 to 34 feet,  resulting in reducing speeding.  The county is not receiving  complaints about speeders in the corridor since the project closed, Triplett commented.  

“The (work done) provides a safe place for pedestrian and bike traffic, away from the up-to-5,600 vehicles per day counted on Highway 8,” he added.

This “Phase One” took advantage of $1.9 million in federal aid the county obtained, plus state aid funds of $689,000 and the city contributed $323,000, mostly covering expenses related to utilities, Triplett explained.  The nearly $3 million in work was done starting in 2016 ending about at Stinson Avenue.

Phase Two of the Chisago City plan, still along Old Towne Road, was Stinson north to Highway 8. Triplett said Chisago City took the lead on this during 2017-2018.  The road was made wider on the east edge of the park for safer traffic movements and adding parking slots.  The lighting improvements were paid for by the city, the county covered curb, gutter, sidewalk, stormwater and street surface work.

Pechman said the city will seek to use consistent design elements and use similar outdoor lighting strategy for a more defined entry to the city,  at about Karmel and The Northern Grill, in the green triangle. A landmark or monument there is still being planned.  Over the next couple years the city hopes to be working with a developer on re-use of the Lakeside School parcel once the kids move to the new school and Lakeside is vacated.   The city has a consulting team piecing together what the vision could be for this site, which Pechman said will be ready for public input and suggestions this winter.  The city is also being pro-active on future use of the older buildings at the Fairview Clinic campus  that are on the market,  on the east edge of the city.  Likewise a package of future land use preferences for this area is coming together for public review.

About the park
The city park’s namesake Vilhelm Moberg, is a Swedish playwright and author  who spent time in the Chisago Lakes region in 1948 researching and finding inspiration for his highly regarded books on Swedes in America:  The Emigrants, Unto a Good Land, The Settlers and Last Letter Home.  Moberg roomed at a boarding house a couple blocks south of the park,  and criss-crossed the Chisago Lakes area frequently by bike.  A statute by sculptor Ian Dudley-- of Moberg standing with  his bicycle-- is in the park’s northwest corner.  Chisago City’s summer festival features the posting of clues as part of a hunt for Moberg’s bike horn.  
Moberg died in 1973.

The year 1948 is also remembered for when the last locomotive run took place on the Wyoming-to-Taylors Falls line.  The railway tracks generally followed what became the highway.  This Northern Pacific branch line opened to passengers and freight transport from the depot in Wyoming to Taylors Falls,   in 1881.

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