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Published January 29, 2013, 02:44 PM

Park Payments Puzzle Grand Forks Council

In a report presented to the City Council’s finance committee Monday night, six developments lacked a record of payment required by the policy.ecords of district transactions.

By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald

Cleaning up the books is the next step for Grand Forks city and Park District officials interested in revamping the city’s park land dedication requirement.

In a report presented to the City Council’s finance committee Monday night, six developments lacked a record of payment required by the policy.

“If someone sees that, it raises a lot of questions,” Council President Hal Gershman said of the missing information. “We need to close the loops … and finish the books.”

Under the policy, developers are required to set aside 8 percent of land or pay 8 percent of the land’s value to the Park District. The money is then used to improve a nearby park that would serve the new development, according to Bill Palmiscno, the district’s superintendent of recreation.

City Planner Brad Gengler said the report was based on the minutes of the Park Dedication Committee. The city will need to crosscheck records with the Park District to find the absent information, he said.

According to the report, from the policy’s implementation in 1975 to the most recent dedication committee meeting in 2008, the Park District has received 311.7 acres of land and $939,557 in payments.

The cash payments total includes payments calculated from the value of land developments for which the Planning Department does not have record of a payment.

Tidying the books didn’t stop at finding missing payment information. Council member Doug Christensen called for records of transactions involving swapping parcels of dedicated park land among properties owned by the same person.

“Some people might think they got credit (for park land dedication),” Christensen said, which according to him may not be the case. “I just know that I need the facts.”

Along with the land swap records, council member Dana Sande requested recommendations for a more defined swapping policy to be put in a potential new land dedication law.

“People need to know when it’s OK to swap,” he said. “I just want everybody to have an understanding of what is acceptable and what is not.”

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