Burleigh County’s Mitchell Lake park facility, located near Wing, will remain open for the remainder of the year, following Monday night’s county park board meeting, where more than a handful of citizens spoke against the sale of the property as the result of “very little use.”
County Commissioner Kathleen Jones, who estimates 42 people used the park in 2018, says she spoke with two realtors who estimate the 2.5-acre property could sell for as much as $30,000. The annual cost to maintain the park is $4,000, according to Jones.
“The last person I saw at Mitchell Lake was a homeless person .... I can assure you I’ve never seen all these campers everyone’s talking about,” she said. “And $4,000 in this county is a lot of money.”
The park is used for family gatherings and church services, according to residents of Wing, and people travel from Sterling, Bismarck and McClusky to enjoy the “unique” area.
“All we’re asking for is for us to have a little spot that we can have in the north end of the county to be able to access for recreation,” said Sanford Williams, a Wing resident and Richmond Township Board supervisor.
BJ Goldammer, who lives near the park, says she “loves” the facility and asked for the county’s continued support in maintaining it.
“I love to fish. I do go there often. I have a paddleboat,” she said. “I love the place and I would hate to see it not be kept up and the help that you guys could give us would be great.”
Last fall, the Mitchell Lake comfort stations were removed as they were full of garbage and could not be pumped. Jones said the vault toilets, which had been in place for more than 60 years, had never been cleaned.
The boat ramp remains, though the North Dakota Game and Fish Department quit stocking the lake with fish in 2012 due to the quality of the water, according to Jones.
The county could enter into a joint powers agreement with Richmond Township, according to Burleigh County State's Attorney Julie Lawyer, and have the township maintain and care for the park, which Williams says is not an option.
“We don’t have the money to maintain a park. It’s not our responsibility,” he said. “We don’t have the funds nor the manpower.”
County Commissioner Jim Peluso says the board is not “against” the park, but is trying to “maximize” the county’s dollars.
“I’m a little taken aback that the township wouldn’t be interested in a joint powers agreement, to be honest with you,” he said. “If it’s that valuable to your township, why wouldn’t your township want to up your mill levy by 1 or something and at least help?”
The park board will revisit selling the property this fall. In the meantime, the facility will be equipped with a portable toilet.
“I think it’s a nice little place, and we’d like to keep it and keep it going, if it’s used,” said County Commissioner Jerry Woodcox.