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Osakis Voices: A history of Battle Point Park

Battle Point in the 1970s started to get pressure to stop camping from its neighbors. I remember there was camping into the mid 70s. In 1977, the Minnesota DNR did a quitclaim and conveyed to Todd County interests in the land (Battle Point).

What most of us did not know was there was a state statute on Battle Point. What is interesting, is this statute was discovered in 2005 by former Osakis resident Michael Barrett. He was a member of the Drumlin Hills Coalition in Todd County and was doing research on scenic and natural areas. The coalition started as a handful of people and grew to over 700 members in a matter of months. They were fighting a group with the DNR that wanted to create a state park in northeast Todd County and were going to use eminent domain to get the land. (I will come back to this later.)

Once the county took over, a "no overnight camping" sign was installed and camping stopped. The grass grew tall and very little maintenance was done to Battle Point until 1985. In July of 1985, an agreement was signed between Todd County and the DNR to cooperate in the financing, improvement and development of the access to Lake Osakis at Battle Point Park. Todd County agreed to pay the first $15,000 using $7,500 in Department of Energy and Economic Development funds, and the state's share of the cost was not to exceed $16,800 of the $33,800 total estimated cost for the access. Todd County was responsible for access construction, access operation and maintenance of the public access. The new access would have two rows of 12 parking stalls.

The Osakis Sportsmen's Club paid to have a light installed by the boat ramp and helped install and remove the access dock until 2015. In the 1990s, the park would get mowed when the Sentence to Serve crew for Todd County had time to do it. No picnic tables, no playground equipment and brush growing up all over. But it had a neighbor who made sure toilet paper was in the bathrooms that were installed in July 2000.

In December 2002, the County Board passed a resolution of support for the Lake Wobegon Trail, agreeing to operate and maintain the trail for the useful life of the project at an estimated maintenance cost per year, per mile of $1,000. The Todd County Board agreed to budget the necessary dollars annually to operate and maintain the trail. (No money was budgeted — more on this later.)

As I stated earlier, a group wanted a new state park in northeast Todd County in 2003. There were many meetings and one good thing that did come out of them is why they wanted another park when they couldn't take care of the one they had. This statement shocked a lot of people who were unaware of Battle Point Park. The Drumlin Hills Coalition group continued to work on stopping the new state park and helped elect three new Todd County commissioners to the board in 2004. In January 2005, Barrett found Minnesota Statute 84.163 Battle Point: Conveyance to Todd County, 1977. The governor, upon the recommendation of the DNR commissioner, was granted power to quitclaim and convey to the county the state's interests in the land and any state structures located on it, on the condition that the county agree to improve and maintain it for fishing, hunting, picnicking, camping, playing of athletic games, access to the lake, and general recreational purposes. Then the statute gave a land description of Battle Point. The conveyance contained a provision that the lands and structures shall revert to the state if Todd County failed to operate and maintain it as prescribed by the statute.

More on Todd County parks and trails in May.

Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts on their field of expertise.

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