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Photos: 10th annual Lakefront Music Fest brings the crowds, star power

Thousands of spectators from around the Midwest danced, sang and screamed along with Brad Paisley, Joan Jett, Steve Miller and other rock and country musicians during Prior Lake’s 10th annual Lakefront Music Fest in Lakefront Park on July 12 and 13.

Tickets are on sale for next year’s lineup, which will include the Grammy and Country Music award-winning Lady Antebellum as a headliner, organizers announced before Paisley’s performance late Saturday.

The Prior Lake Rotary Club hosts the concert as its major annual fundraiser and sold about 15,000 tickets for each of the two evenings, said Michelle Jirik, festival co-chairwoman and club secretary.

The festival in the last decade has raised more than $1 million for the club’s grants to local organizations and its projects, including participating in Rotary International’s push to end polio around the world.

The club presented a $66,000 check Saturday to YMCA Twin Cities and Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools organizations to pay back their ticket sales and volunteer time for the event, for example. Another $10,000 went to The Store, a free grocery store in Nashville launched by Paisley and his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley.

The Rotary likely won’t know for several weeks how much it raised altogether this year, spokesman Kyle Haugen said, but “preliminarily, I think we’ll be very happy.”

Laurie Hartmann, publisher for the Savage Pacer and Prior Lake American, chairs the Prior Lake Rotary Foundation board, and Southwest News Media was a sponsor of the music fest.

Canadian blues performer Matt Andersen, country group Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives and country singers Chris Lane and Riley Green warmed up the nights’ crowds with powerful singing and skillful playing.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts took the stage Friday with such classic hits as “Cherry Bomb,” Jett’s voice still as strong as when she first sang it more than 40 years ago.

The Steve Miller Band and Paisley took the stage Friday and Saturday respectively as the daylight faded over perfect summer evenings. The entire Lakefront Park hillside twinkled with wearable lights as Miller performed “Jungle Love,” “Abracadabra” and other selections.

The festival went mostly smoothly from a public safety standpoint, Cmdr. Brad Cragoe with Prior Lake Police said Monday. There were a few medical calls and a few consumption tickets, but nobody went to jail.

Tickets and more information about next year’s event can be found at lakefrontmusicfest.com.


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Council, residents worry over proposed Spring Lake development impact

A developer’s proposal to add 100 homes and a dock along Spring Lake’s west side has riled up neighbors and fans of Spring Lake, though a developer representative said the reaction was overblown.

Several residents at Monday’s City Council meeting said the idea would irrevocably change the lake’s character and ecosystem and decrease the safety of the quiet residential community.

Many said they worried Spring Lake’s progress in improving water quality could be lost. The lake is on the state’s list of impaired lakes because of excess levels of mercury and phosphorus, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District.

Councilwoman Annette Thompson said she had lived through a time when Spring Lake looked like “pea soup” and shared concerns about water quality and safety.

John Anderson represented Winkler Development Company, the developer, at the meeting and said many were misinformed about the project. A Prior Lake American article last week about it contained several mistakes, failing to mention the proposal doesn’t yet include a definite number of boat slips, for example.

The latest plan is for 100 single-family home lots on 65 acres and the extension of the public trail system along Marschall Road. The development would preserve about half of the land as wetlands, stormwater-treatment basins and other open space.

Anderson said the company would be doing more research on the shoreline of the property before settling on a specific number of boat slips or docking system.

“We’re going to go down into the mud and lake bottom itself and see what kind of lake bottom we have,” Anderson said. “We are going to make sure this works. We don’t want to put a bunch of boat slips in out there and then in they sit high and dry, that’s not good for sales.”

The project is not yet up for city review and approval, but Mayor Kirt Briggs said he and council members had been inundated with “numerous emails, text messages, phone calls, and interactions at Lunds & Byerlys in the frozen food aisle in regards to this project.”

“With the application in there would be a full and complete hearing on the item,” he said.

Jeff Matzke, city planner, previously said it will be months before any city action is taken.

A change.org petition created to protest the plan nonetheless garnered over 1,200 signatures in about three days. The petition was shared with Briggs and the council.

“Ecology, safety, congestion, and tranquility are all diminished by this development,” petition creator Kelly Charles wrote. “It is too drastic of a change and too detrimental to the community for which it would reside.”

Longtime resident Christian Morkeberg said he’d watched for years as water quality projects transformed Spring Lake.

“I sat in on meetings where people said, yes, we can’t do anything. Now 15 years later, guess what? We did something. The lake is much much better than it’s ever been,” Morkeberg said. “So please don’t bring us backwards.”

According to the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District, Spring Lake has a maximum depth of 34 feet and average depth of 18 feet. The lake has a surface area of 587 acres, making it about half the size of Lower Prior Lake.

In a letter submitted to city staff, the Spring Lake Association said Spring Lake’s open shape and lack of coves means a single boat can disturb the entire surface and possibly stir up the bottom sediment.

“Anybody wanting to preserve the quality of the lake would never cannibalize it that way,” Spring Lake resident Christine Bachman told the council.

The idea that the development would include a small marina of sorts has also raised concerns about potential traffic on Sunset Avenue. The avenue would become the exit and entry point for the subdivision under the proposal.

Bachmann said she walks Sunset all the time with her young children. She said she and her husband were “pretty up in arms” about the development.

“If there are cars parked all in front of our yard, where will we walk? Where will it be safe for my kids?” Bachmann asked.

Several of the council members voiced similar concern for how traffic to the development would be handled, especially during an emergency situation. Members seemed uncomfortable with the idea that ambulances and fire trucks might have only one way to respond to the residents of the new subdivision.