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Moorhead's M.B. Johnson Park gets $1.3 million grant

MOORHEAD - M.B. Johnson Park in north Moorhead has been selected for a $1.3 million grant, the city said Tuesday.

Four-year-old Aubrey Larson, left, plays at the playground in M.B. Johnson Park in north Moorhead on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Rick Abbott / The Forum
Four-year-old Aubrey Larson, left, plays at the playground in M.B. Johnson Park in north Moorhead on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Rick Abbott / The Forum

MOORHEAD – M.B. Johnson Park in north Moorhead has been selected for a $1.3 million grant, the city said Tuesday.

"It's always nice to put money back into the community," John Mehl said. He was watching over his six children as they played in the park's playground Tuesday afternoon.

Mehl, who is 40 and lives nearby, likened the park to a hidden treasure. "Most people don't know it's here," he said.

His daughter, 15-year-old Jena, said she bikes to the park twice a week with her younger brother. "It's always empty, which is a nice thing," she said.

The park, located on the northern edge of the city at 3601 11th St. N., offers plenty of open space and a couple of unique attractions: a bike trail and an access point to the Red River for fishing.

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A fish-cleaning station at the park is one of several amenities funded by the 2017 Legacy Grant Award, which comes from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission.

"That would be very helpful," John Mehl said of a fish-cleaning station, because he said some people leave fish guts in the park or burn the guts.

Mehl said he fishes at the park for walleye, catfish, sheepshead and other varieties that aren't very good for eating but fun for the kids to catch.

The grant will also pay for some paved trails, a bump track for mountain biking, restrooms, educational signs, benches, trash bins, storage and a bridge across Snaky Creek, which will open up about 12 acres to park users.

Jackie Schultz said she visits the park every day with her two Jack Russell terriers, Echo and Pixie.

"I walk through the woods, it is what I love," said Schultz, 50, of Moorhead. A 3.3-mile dirt mountain bike trail through the park was finished in 2012. In the winter, the park is open for cross-country skiing.

Mehl and Schultz had a few ideas of their own for the grant money. Mehl would like to see the city put in a dog park and keep the restrooms open. Schultz said the playground could use some swings and a basketball court.

"They'd get a lot of people out here if they had a basketball court," she said.

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A large picnic shelter at the park is under construction.

Four-year-old Aubrey Larson, left, plays at the playground in M.B. Johnson Park in north Moorhead on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Rick Abbott / The Forum
Four-year-old Aubrey Larson heads down a slide in M.B. Johnson Park in north Moorhead on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Rick Abbott / The Forum

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