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Editorial: County isn’t justified in taking park land

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opinion Hastings, 55033
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

On this week’s front page, you saw a big story about a big issue — landowners are trying to stop the county from taking their land.

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The county says it needs the land for Spring Lake Park.

The landowner wants to keep the land, which includes about 1,200 feet of shoreline on the Mississippi River.

In a meeting on Nov. 5, county commissioner Kathleen Gaylord said that the time had come for the county to acquire the land. The land has long been sought by the county, she said, and the county is now ready to move forward. The land, the county says, is located within the boundary of Spring Lake Park.

But it is those boundaries that to us seem peculiar.

The county appears to believe that they are entitled to this land because it lies inside the boundaries of the park that they have drawn.

That, though, doesn’t hold water. Richard Mauch bought the property about 50 years ago, long before Spring Lake Park existed. Those boundaries were drawn in well after that, and just because his land is technically wihin them doesn’t mean the county is justified in taking the land.

Are they legally permitted to do this? Yes.

But taking land from an unwilling seller is something that should be used only under the most serious of circumstances. This circumstance is not one of them.

Spring Lake Park is certainly a gem, but landowners shouldn’t be forced out just so the park can live up to some master plan document.

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