How did the opportunity to turn this property into a park come about?

Wright County and the City of Monticello were approached by the YMCA of Minneapolis in 2006.  At that time, the YMCA owned the 1,200 acres known as “Camp Manitou” in its entirety.  The YMCA was interested in the possibility of selling the property to development in order to invest in other YMCA facilities.  Sensing an opportunity, the City and County immediately began working in cooperation with the YMCA to purchase the property for long-term preservation and park use.

How much of the property is currently owned by the County and City?

As of December 2016, Wright County and the City of Monticello jointly own the 1,200 acres of the park in its entirety, thanks to a series of grants from the Parks and Trails Legacy Fund for the acquisition and development of this significant resource.

What is the cost of the proposed park?

The County, City and the YMCA agreed to a purchase price of $20.5 million for the entire 1,200 acres.  This amount was based on an appraisal of the property, agreed on by all parties.

In 2008, the County, City and the YMCA entered into an agreement which allows the County/City to make incremental purchases of the property through 2013. as funding is secured through grants and local matches.

The County and City entered into this agreement with the understanding that each would be funding partners, with additional funding pursued from State of Minnesota sources.  The two entities are actively seeking the support of the State to help fund the purchase of all 1,200 acres.

Who is paying for the park?

The first acquisition of 319 acres in 2008 cost $3.6 million.  Each partner (County, City, State) contributed one-third of the cost of the acquisition, or $1.2 million.

The State of Minnesota’s $1.2 million included $1 million from the Environmental Trust Fund (your lottery funds) and $200,000 from the Department of Natural Resources Metro Greenways grant program.

In 2010, the City and County purchased an additional 51 acres, bringing the total parkland at Bertram Lake to 370 acres.  That purchase was made possible by a grant from the DNR’s Metro Greenways program, as well as matching funding from the City of Monticello (park dedication fund) and Wright County.

In 2011, the County and City acquired 126 land and water acres lying primarily between Bertram and Long Lakes.  This acquisition was made possible through grants from the DNR’s Non-Metro Regional Park program and the Park Legacy grant program, with matching funds from the City of Monticello and Wright County.

In 2013, the County and City acquired another 140 land and water acres lying along the south and west side of the park, including a large portion of Bertram Lake.  This acquisition brought the park to over half of the total planned park area of 1,200 acres!

In 2014, a $3.8 million, 164-acre acquisition successfully closed on June 5, 2014, bringing the park total to 721 acres.  The purchase was made possible with $2.2 million in grant funding and additional match funding from Wright County and the City of Monticello.  This acquisition includes the beach and landing at Bertram Lake, the 40 acres of the planned athletic area, as well as the 12-acre parcel where the YMCA intends to build its new Day Camp Manitou.

The next acquisition of 80 acres is slated for 2015.  The estimated cost of this acquisition is $2.3 million with $1.4 million potentially coming from grant funding.

Who will own and operate the park?

Wright County and the City of Monticello will jointly own and operate the facility.  Both will continue to plan for and budget for on-going improvements and maintenance.

What types of activities  are planned for the park?

You decide!  The opportunities for both active and passive recreational opportunities at this 1,200 acre property are abundant.  The Bertram Chain of Lakes Advisory Council wants to hear your ideas for year-round activities that make the most of the park’s lakes, woodlands, wetlands and open spaces while protecting and enhancing this important natural resource. View a concept map.

Will hunting be allowed in the park?

Under current ordinances, the City of Monticello and Wright County prohibit discharge of firearms within public parks.  It is the goal of the County and City that the park remain as accessible to as many people as often as possible.  However, it is possible that special hunts may be permitted at times through the Wounded Warrior Program or other programs as a conservation  management strategy.

What will happen to the YMCA and their day camp?

Under the agreement the County and City signed with the YMCA, the YMCA will be able to maintain a day camp on the site for 99 years.  The new YMCA Day Camp Manitou is set up on a 12-acre portion of the park along Long Lake.  The new facility includes an outdoor water park, pool, slide and splash pad, climbing wall and high ropes course and many camping buildings and facilities. The City and County will also cooperatively plan activities and events whenever possible with the YMCA.  It’s a partnership that will continue to benefit all three organizations.

Why are the City and County purchasing this property?

It is recognized that Wright County will remain one of the fastest growing counties in the State.  This growth in population and the loss of natural resources associated with development make the acquisition of the Bertram Chain of Lakes area a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The County and City have the chance to improve the community’s quality of life by preserving this irreplaceable natural area through the creation of a regional public park for active and passive recreation.  It is increasingly rare anywhere in Minnesota, particularly within reach of the Metro area, to find almost 6 miles of undisturbed lakeshore, 1.5 miles of streams, 615 acres of woods including oak forest, 245 acres of wetlands and mixed vegetation and 140 acres of active agricultural lands and recreational facilities.

There is an economic benefit to this property’s conservation, as well.  A recent study of home and property values in Hennepin County indicates that people are willing to pay more to live close to very large open spaces (greater than 50 acres).  Homes within a quarter-mile of large open spaces are worth almost 4.8% more; those beyond a quarter mile but within half a mile are worth 3% more.

Ultimately, the Bertram Chain of Lakes will have a positive regional impact for property values and serve as a major regional asset.

What areas of the park are open to the public?

The park is now completely open to the public. Parking for the beach and YMCA is located at 9910 Briarwood Ave NE, Monticello; and the trailhead for mountain bike access and hiking access is located at 1744 90th Street NW.  You can park and walk into the park at either location.  View a park brochure and map.

What’s the next step in the park purchase and planning process?

The Advisory Council has reviewed public input provided from community forums and events, and has developed an overall concept plan for the park which includes and active area for a future athletic complex, including youth baseball fields and soccer fields, the Bertram Lake Beach, natural playground, camping area, nature trails and hiking, mountain bike trails, fishing piers, and more. When all the acquisitions are complete, Bertram Chain of Lakes will become the largest Regional Park in Wright County.

Please contact members of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, members of the Monticello City Council and your legislators to voice your support for this irreplaceable open space and become a member of the Friends of Bertram by using the “Become a Friend” feature on the home page of this site.

Your continued support and input are critical to the future planning of the park. 


We Appreciate Your Support!