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Knife River Heritage Center plans on display April 26

The public is welcome to see the first round of plans for a proposed Heritage Center at the site of the train depot Thursday, April 26, at the Knife River Recreational Center. The plan calls for removing most of the existing depot and replacing it with an open pavilion. (File photo)

Residents will see the first round of plans for a proposed Heritage Center at the site of the current train depot Thursday, April 26, at 7 p.m. at the Knife River Recreational Center building in Knife River. The Center would focus on the town's logging, railroading and commercial fishing heritage.

Paul von Goertz, chairman of the Knife River Rec Council's Heritage Center steering committee, said the upcoming meeting is in response to the Jan. 30 community meeting where residents overwhelmingly expressed support for the Heritage Center concept and wanted the concept to be taken to the next step.

"This is the first go at the plan and takes into consideration what the community envisions and how the Rail Authority, depot building owner and the North Shore Scenic Railroad see how they fit into it," von Goertz said. The Rail Authority owns the land for the proposed site and Randy Ellestad of Knife River owns the depot.

According to von Goertz, the plan calls for removing most of the existing depot and replacing it with an open 24-by-80-foot multi-use pavilion. The pavilion would also be home to CRUSADER II, a fish tug built in 1939 with long ties to Knife River.

"As much as we value the historical significance of the depot, if we were to restore it, we would have an expensive building nice to look at, but with little or no practical use," Ellestad said. "If we build new, we can have a Heritage Center with a multiple-use open area."

Von Goertz said the April 26 meeting would be the last of two meetings to gather community input into the Heritage Center idea.

"We intend to give as much information as we can about proposed location, structure, exhibits, budget and funding mechanisms. We expect more questions than we have answers, but we're still early in the planning stages," von Goertz said.

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