According to this article appearing in Sun Thisweek, Dakota County Commissioners asked County staff to go back to the drawing board when they presented plans to add nine rustic (read: no plumping) treehouse-style cabins to the newest regional park at a cost of $810,000.
From the article:
Commissioners balked at the estimated $810,000 cost to build nine rustic “treehouse” cabins at the park. A restroom building and short road with parking was estimated to cost another $450,000.
“Are you crazy?” Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord asked parks officials presenting plans at the board’s Nov. 13 Physical Development Committee meeting. “Little cabins in the woods without any plumbing cost $90,000 each? … I could build a house for this kind of money.”
Staff noted treehouses built in Minnesota State Parks cost 1/3 of this but those would not meet the vision set by the County for the new park as well as those that cost $90,000. While it’s fairly clear $90,000 for a single rustic cabin without plumbing is definitely excessive, it doesn’t seem like it would take all that long to recoup the upfront cost.
I would be willing to bet that if these cabins were decent and the park itself was worth visiting, these cabins would be filled at least every weekend for the entire year much like those at other parks around the state. If they were occupied for 100 nights a year (basically two days every weekend) and the County charged $50/night (which is what Minnesota State Parks get for electrified cabins), then these could theoretically be paid off in around 18 years. While this is asking for a perfect storm (people wanting to actually visit the park and use these cabins), it is feasible–although still insane.
But even if the cabins themselves are feasible or insane, depending on your outlook, one Commissioner’s commentary about the roadway leading to the park takes the cake. Joe Harris wants the currently planned 1.5 mile gravel road ($680,000) paved (+$340,000) because he believes that if someone’s car gets dirty on the way in they’ll never recommend to anyone else that they visit the park. With overzealous estimates believing the park will see 1/2 million visitors in 2030, do you believe this something we need to worry about right now?
What do you think about this one? With the County already putting forth $4.7 million in tax dollars to build a new regional park, do you think it’s right that the County Staff is looking to spend $1.26 million on 9 cabins, a parking lot, and a bathroom? What do you think about Dakota County Commissioner John Harris’ statement that the 1.5 mile gravel road must be paved right now, at an even greater cost to the taxpayers, because he feels dirty cars = dirty gossip about the park?