One of the most beautifully aesthetic pieces of property in Wright County is the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park in Monticello Township. It is a pristine park that, on weekends in the summer, will attract more than 800 visitors a day.
But, those who visit the park this spring and summer will be noticing changes taking place in the park as Wright County prepares the park for camping starting in 2021.
Parks & Recreation Director Marc Mattice is getting ready for the activity to begin on a $3.15 million project. The project has received $2.3 million in state grant funding, through the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, which provides oversight of the Parks and Trail Legacy funds in Greater Minnesota. The project includes a local match of approximately $850,000. The project will have two major bid packets. The first will be the construction of a contact station/campground office, a comfort station with public restrooms and showers and six camper cabins – which are small structures equipped with electricity, heating/cooling units, and bunk beds. Three of the cabins can sleep six people, while three have the capacity to sleep five people. That portion of the project will have a pre-bid meeting with contractors Wednesday, Jan. 15 with a bid opening scheduled for noon Wednesday, Feb. 5 at the Parks & Rec office. A second set of bids for the project will include earth work, sewer/water lines and utilities that is scheduled to have a bid opening Wednesday, Feb. 26.
The plan is to start the project in May with a goal of the park being open for camping in May 2021. Mattice said the inclusion of camper cabins and office space has the potential to make camping available throughout the year in the park.
“Our goal is to have those facilities open year-round at some point – maybe not seven days a week, but have it open throughout the winter months for year-round occupancy,” Mattice said.
The county has two parks that currently offer camping – Collinwood Regional Park and Schroeder County Park – but the planned campsites at Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park will differ significantly from what is currently being offered.
“These sites are going to be different than what we currently have for camping in county parks,” said Parks & Recreation Operations Manager Brad Harrington. “Our other campgrounds are right on beaches with public boat accesses. None of these lakes allow for petroleum motors, so it’s going be a different clientele for camping. It’s a little bit more of a hike to the swimming beach. But, on the flip side of that, you have the YMCA pool that is right next to it. One of the biggest requests we get at our campground is, ‘When are you putting a pool in?’ Here, we will have one right next to the campsites.”
In addition to the camper cabins, there will be 44 traditional campsites included in the project with approximately half of those equipped with sewer, water and electricity hookups. As the sports complex which is being developed by the City of Monticello continue to develop, Mattice expects to see the campsites fill up quickly for those playing in weekend tournaments and looking to avoid long drives back or hotel costs.
The construction this spring and summer isn’t going to have much of an impact on current users of the park because where the campsites are going to be located currently doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic. But, that will change in 2021 and Mattice is excited about the prospect of attracting a diverse group of campers with different interests.
“There will be a lot of unique things for campers,” Mattice said. “(The YMCA) has day camps during the summer you can sign your kids up for if you want to stay for a week,, and the chain of lakes provide for a great paddle experience We also have 14 miles of single track mountain bike trails and you’re in a ride center for the Metro area, where you can camp at Bertram and hit four or five different bike trail systems within 45 minutes. It’s going to be a little different that what we’ve seen in our other parks.”