Prairie View could be part of land swap

WORTHINGTON -- Though a formal proposal has yet to be presented, the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District's board of managers discussed this week a suggestion from the city of Worthington for a potential land swap.

Work commenced on the Prairie View pond expansion this week, and is slated for completion Sept. 15. The work at the site will ultimately filter phosphorus and sediment from water before it reaches Lake Okabena. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Though a formal proposal has yet to be presented, the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District’s board of managers discussed this week a suggestion from the city of Worthington for a potential land swap.

Manager Jay Milbrandt said he was recently contacted by City Administrator Steve Robinson regarding a council idea to swap the remaining land that comprises the former Prairie View Golf Links with land the watershed district owns along U.S. 59/Minnesota 60 near Nobles Street.

“The future of Prairie View was contentious (regarding) what they were going to do with it, and the council has come to the conclusion that it would be great to see this remain a public land,” Milbrandt shared at Tuesday’s meeting. “If it stays with the city, they are worried every future council will have the debate about what to do with the land.

“They don’t have experience restoring things to habitat and having these public spaces,” Milbrandt added.

The watershed district currently has an easement from the city for 40 acres of Prairie View, with water quality improvement projects currently under construction on the site. There’s an additional 110 acres comprising the site. The St. John property is approximately 50 acres, which includes wetlands.


Milbrandt said the city’s vision is to see a multi-use public space, with trails, habitat restoration, pollinator habitat and the potential for specialty youth or veteran hunts and education opportunities.

“In the rough proposal they carved out the clubhouse,” Milbrandt said, noting there are still talks about the local Boy Scouts - or other groups - possibly using that building in the future.

“Worthington is asking us, essentially, for a proposal,” said OOWD Administrator Dan Livdahl.

While managers expressed little interest in the former clubhouse building, and have concerns about maintenance of a trail system, they see advantages in having the land, whether through ownership or a perpetual easement.

“I think it’s to the watershed’s best interest to not have that land go back into crop production - to keep that under our control,” Livdahl said.

Following a motion to participate in discussions with the city, Manager Rolf Mahlberg said he was excited about the benefits the remainder of the golf course land could provide.

“It would just be a nice public area,” Milbrandt added.

In other business, the board:


  • Approved the 2018 draft budget at $260,800 - a nearly $50,000 reduction from 2017. A public hearing on the budget was set for 4 p.m. Sept. 5. The proposed budget includes a district levy of $253,000, down from $303,000 in 2017. Livdahl said a large share of the budget will go toward water quality improvement projects in Lake Ocheda.
  • Authorized the administrator to get an estimate on a feasibility study to examine ISD 518’s new property along Crailsheim Drive for potential implementation of water quality practices, as well as an estimate for a study to consider potential stormwater practices in Olson Park, Slater Park and Sailboard Beach.

To remove Lake Okabena from the state’s impaired waters list, an estimated 4,300 pounds of phosphorus needs to be removed or stopped before it reaches the lake. The Prairie View project will remove an estimated 945 pounds of phosphorus per year.

  • Approved erosion control permits for Todd Schwebach to construct a new home on Dayton Drive; for Ercell Dykstra to do a shoreland construction project on her property on South Shore Drive; for Nobles County to complete foundation waterproofing on the government center; for the Nobles County Fair Board to create a gravel parking area south of the ice arena; and for Lismore Cooperative Telephone Co. to install fiber.
  • Was notified the final informational meeting on the Ocheda Management Plan is set for Sept. 11, with the hearing scheduled for Oct. 10.
  • Discussed Osceola County’s plans to replace the bridge over the Ocheyedan River, south of the Lake Bella spillway, with box culverts in 2018. Concerns were addressed about the potential for water to pack up into the pooling area during high rain events.
  • Approved the 2016 audit.
  • Recommended the reappointment of Casey Ingenthron and Jeff Rogers to the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District’s Board of Managers.
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
What To Read Next
Get Local