Partnerships and Met Council equity grant help shape new park facilities in Scott County

Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2023

People who enjoy fishing and camping can anticipate fun new experiences at Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park. Scott County has been upgrading facilities at the park this year, and partnerships with outside organizations have played a key role in two separate projects.

Steel ramp leads to wooden fishing pier on lake.

Equity grant leads to improved access to Cedar Lake

The first project, funded entirely by a Metropolitan Council Regional Parks Equity Grant, improved access to Cedar Lake and protected its shoreline.

Cedar Lake is a popular fishing spot, according to Alysa Misfeldt, strategic programs manager for Scott County Parks & Trails. Since the park opened in 2015, fishing activity has increased and the lake shoreline has been degrading from overuse.

To help plan the project the county engaged several groups that use Cedar Lake for programming, including Let's Go Fishing, ProAct Inc., Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Three Rivers Park District's Outdoor Recreation School. Group representatives met as a partnership team a few times to brainstorm onsite and share stories about how their groups use the shoreline. Those conversations had a direct impact on the final design, Misfeldt said.

The final project includes:

  • An ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) path to an additional fishing pier that features an ADA-compliant bench.
  • A flagstone path along the shoreline that connects several fishing spots constructed with large rock slabs and boulders.
  • An ADA-compliant gravel path with benches.

The $185,500 Met Council parks equity grant covered all costs for engagement, design, and construction. The project is finished and visitors are enjoying new spots to fish.

Students kneeling on boards hammering in nails.

A new group camp and camper cabins

Construction of 4 camper cabins with lake views and a lakeside group campsite for up to 10 tents (maximum 25 people) began in January this year and will be completed in 2024. The camper cabins are being built by Shakopee and Jordan high school students.

The Scott County Board and leadership urged that this project include some type of community build, which led to the involvement of both high schools. The board designated federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project.

“The students got really invested in this project,” said Brett Kaufhold, technical education teacher and leader of the Engineering and Manufacturing Academy at Shakopee High School. “They took ownership of it, and I was able to step back and let them run with it.”

The Shakopee students had two weeks for pre-planning in January, and then on a freezing cold day mid-month, Lowe’s delivered the construction materials for two of the cabins to the school. The students started building the next day, Kaufhold said. The last shingles were put on in late May.

An advantage of a project of this scope is that the students could better understand how a project must be planned well and that there are schedules to establish and deadlines to meet, Kaufhold said. While an estimated 200-250 students touched the project in some way, a core of 20 students in his Advanced Construction class led and did most of the work.

A building trades class of 14 students at Jordan High School started on their two cabins at about the same time, said Steve McClellan, industrial technology teacher.

Group of students poses with adults in front of camper cabin with finished exterior.“This was a great opportunity for the students to work on a bigger project, to experience how a construction project goes from start to finish and see how each of the trades is involved,” McClellan said. Students who might not normally interact much worked closely together, building new relationships as well as building the cabins, which was rewarding to witness, he said.

The four cabins aren’t finished yet. They are all at the park now, and Jordan students are working alongside carpenters from the Three Rivers Park District to finish the interiors. By spring, the bunk beds, tables, and benches built by students at both schools will be installed.

The new group campsite also includes a controlled access bathroom and shower building. When it opens next year, campers will have access via a paved trail to the active use area where there is a beach, boat rental, and picnic areas.

The new camping facilities are part of the long-term park plan (PDF) approved by the county board and Met Council.

About Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park

Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park is located on the shores of Cedar Lake in south central Scott County. The 254-acre park contains 4,300 feet of shoreland, a native maple-basswood forest, wetlands, and expansive open space with mature shade trees. The park is operated under a joint powers agreement between Scott County and Three Rivers Park District.

The land has been a space for community and agriculture for a long time. The site was previously operated as a farm and later as a resort. The park became part of the regional park system in 2005. The long-term plan for the park envisions the park as “a place where families and groups can continue to gather lakeside and people can reconnect with where food comes from.”

Learn more about the projects at the Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park website.

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