MDM: Quarry Park, A project way overdue.

Some of you may or may not know, but for the past year and half(ish) I’ve been working toward turning an old quarry into a park.

It’s a really long, difficult process to say the least.

The idea started when I was tooling around on Google Maps a while back. I love looking at maps, but I especially like looking at maps of Mankato and the surrounding area. It’s always fun to find something new that you’ve never seen before and then to explore whats out there.

At the time I was looking for good fishing spots. I’ve always known that quarries were good spots to fish, so when I found this quarry (which on Google Maps makes it look like it’s still in use) I had to go investigate it.

I drove down to the quarry and found that it was abandoned. Knowing that trespassing is generally harmless if you have the right intentions, I decided to go in and look around.

Let me tell you, it’s an amazing area. I need to go down and take some pictures and post them here.

The quarry is flanked by the bluffs of the Le Suer river and is almost exclusively surrounded by state or county owned land (mainly recreation). The thing that makes it perfect though is the Red Jacket Trail. The trail runs straight from West Mankato and out into the country eventually terminating right outside Rapidan. During it’s course the RJT passes over an old train trestle bridge. Right before this crossing is Red Jacket Park located, you guessed it, right across the road from the quarry.

The location of the quarry in proximity to the RJT makes it the ultimate non-motorized destination. The quarry has tons of water (oh yeah, it does have fish) and tons of potential for a bunch of recreation options. All in all, the quarry is about 150 acres making it a pretty big park for Southern Minnesota.

After talking to Jack McGowan (one of Mankato’s best citizens) he informed that the quarry was rumored to be 70 ft. deep. and used to be someone’s personal fishing hole which he stocked.

 

Now that I’ve filled you in on everything, here’s the progress I’ve made.

I’ve talked to the County Parks Dept., the regional DNR, the Mankato Parks Dept., The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Mankato Area Environmentalists, Southern Minnesota Construction (the company that owns the parcel) and countless individuals.

I finally got some help when I landed a conversation with Bolton and Menk, a local engineering firm. Jason Femrite, who co-owns Bent River Outfitter(and works at Bolton and Menk), told me that the firm itself probably couldn’t help, but he would be more than willing to give it a go with me. Since then we’ve made good progress and have secured some promising resources that we think will help get this idea attention and feasibility.

I know my readership is small to non-existent, but if you want to learn more about the idea and/or want to help you can contact me at Keycity@keycity.co or mjleyrer@gmail.com

I’ve linked below to the map. I also made a really crappy mockup of what I thought the park could be, but I don’t think I’m going to post it due to its…crapiness.

This quarry is perfect for a park. If you ever go down there on a nice day you can see that people use it already. There’s a bike and 4-wheeling trail that surrounds the perimeter and last time I went, there was a guy kayaking.

After talking to some different people at SMC, they know they want to sell it, but they have to get it assessed first. The gentlemen I talked to said there had been some interest in the property from a few different people including some developers. However, the whole thing is in the flood plain, so I don’t really think that building a subdivision out there would be possible…unless we put up a huge wall to contain the river, because that’s a good idea.

The reason I decided to tag it as MDM is because I forgot it was Monday, but this one still fits the bill.

All I’m asking for you to do is think about it and maybe drop the thought in a conversation. Spread the idea because that’s how things like this happen.

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m12!1m3!1d3602.86072877796!2d-94.0499202979682!3d44.121152689669074!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!5e1!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1402762024441&w=600&h=450]

Thanks for reading. I’m excited to see where this goes.

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going forward.