Graner Park is set to continue renovations
By LeAnn Eckroth
Graner Park, south of Mandan, is on a comeback from the ruin it was. After it sustained serious damage from the 2011 Missouri River flood, its original campsite — closed for two seasons — was restored for use in 2013. Two expansion projects, costing nearly $190,000, also are planned, said Tim Nilsen, county parks director.
“I know there was talk that Graner Park was going to close. … People said that is not going to happen. The (park) commission got an outcry that ‘we want Graner Park back,’” Nilsen said.
The park was closed to campers for most of the 2011 and 2012 seasons because of the flood. However, the boat ramp was usable in 2011 after the flood waters receded
The 27 camp pads with electrical units that were lost at its original modern campsites were restored for use in 2013. The county park board wants to add 51 electrical units at two new campground locations. Grass and trees also have been replanted.
Nilsen said in 2011, debris piled up in the park from upstream. “We had trees, pallets, shower stalls, steps, entryways that flowed in, boat docks and anything that floated,” he said. The county park district used two burn piles, approved by the state Health Department, to get rid of it, according to Nilsen. He said FEMA funds paid for a large part of the cleanup.
Sand and sediment from the flood were moved to the former harbor area of the park that was difficult to maintain, said Nilsen.
The county park board plans a May opening of its Phase I expansion project in the southwest section of Graner Park. It will add 20 electrical camp pad hookups — six will be drive-through sites and nine back-in sites. A large group campsite also will be added.
The $62,000 in improvements will be funded by property tax funds, a gift from the Bis-man Reel and Rec Club and a donation from Friends of Graner Park, said Nilsen.
On Jan.13, the Morton County Park Board voted to have Nilsen apply to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit for the northeast expansion of the park or Phase II. The county park board wants to add 31 new electrical camping pads there for use in June. The $123,000 cost will be paid for by state Parks and Recreation grants and property taxes. The county park system must finish the project by July 2015 to receive the grant funds.
Nielsen said the proposed camp area is part of a lease transfer. The 4.3 acres of property previously had been leased by the state Game and Fish Department.
A two-way dump station would be added to the park. Nilsen said if the permit is approved, the next challenge is finding contractors to do the work.
Discussion has started about placing two new modern group camping sites on the north side of Graner Park, but nothing has been decided, Nilsen said.
“This is exciting times for Morton County parks. Morton County parks are booming. Our usage is up drastically,” he said.
He said there easily could be 150 -200 campers using Graner Park at a time when the new campsites are completed. “I foresee us being full all the time.”