BAXTER — The Fourth of July parade and celebration will go on this summer — in Baxter.
The Baxter City Council on Tuesday approved a request by Brainerd Community Action to move the Fourth of July festivities to Baxter for 2012.
Nancy Cross, Community Action executive director, asked the city for approval to work with city staff on details.
In looking for a separate site to host the Fourth of July parade, which is traditionally in Brainerd, Cross said the goal was to have a single space for the crowd so people don’t have to move, that major road arteries are kept open and the parade route won’t be staged or routed through a residential area.
The Baxter parade route runs along Clearwater Road, Golf Course Drive, south to Excelsior Road and then north on Cypress Drive before cutting back to Clearwater Road. The route basically circles the southern half of the former Pine Meadows Golf Course.
A segment of Excelsior Road would be closed for the parade, mainly affecting the Autumn Glenn residential area, along with a segment of Golf Course Drive between Universal and Design roads. Cross said residents of the affected areas could have passes to allow them through the closed roads.
Cross said they have raised the $15,000 set as a goal for the fireworks celebration.
Cross reported the Mills family was kind enough to allow use of their lot by Target and The Body Works for an entertainment area with stage that would face toward Highway 371 and away from residences. The fireworks would be set off from the dead-end of Cypress Drive.
“I’m hoping you will direct staff to work with me to make this thing happen,” Cross said.
Council member Jim Klein said: “I’m actually excited. I think it’s about time Baxter has a celebration. ... I’m all for this.”
Parking is expected to be available from closed retail sites such as Mills Fleet Farm. But Cross noted there is no public ground in this route and absolutely no campers or recreational vehicles will be allowed to park in the area as there is absolutely no place for them to go.
Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said his main concern is with staffing requirements, which will be imperative in the busy traffic area. Exsted said it will cost about $1,500 in overtime expenses for the parade this year.
Cross said whether the parade can go back to its old route will depend on the College Drive reconfiguration. She said the future of returning the parade there will be a later decision, likely in the fall. At this point, Cross said moving the parade to Baxter is considered a one-year plan.
Mayor Darrel Olson said he wanted to make one thing clear — that the request was coming under duress with the construction at College Drive and from his standpoint the goal is not to take the parade from Brainerd.
“We’re not looking to steal this parade,” Olson said.
He added with money coming in to help Community Action make its goal, that means the people want the celebration to happen some place.
Exsted said if the parade is moved to Baxter in future years, that is likely to cost the city $3,500 to $4,000 in overtime budgets for his department.
This year, Exsted said the Brainerd Police Department and Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department are working with Baxter for public safety with the Fourth of July celebration.
“We can make it happen,” Exsted said.
For this first year change, Exsted said they will want to provide more than enough staff and then make changes with an after-action review. Until it happens, Exsted said they won’t know where people will attempt to park and with the busy Highway 371 raises concerns.
The council approved the plan. Council member Mark Cross, who is married to Nancy Cross, abstained. Council member Todd Holman wasn’t yet present for the meeting for this vote.