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Pierce County asked to help fund Diamond Bluff park work; park commemorates Sea Wing disaster

The Pierce County Board will vote later this month on a request to donate $54,240 to help the Town of Diamond Bluff develop and expand a three-acre park with frontage on the Mississippi River.

The funds will come from the Park Development Fund, money that was collected over the last two decades as a park fee-which ranged from $100 to $600-was charged each time a new residential lot was created in the county's rural areas.

Pierce County's Park Development Fund contains nearly $860,000. State law no longer allows counties to collect the fee.

The Town of Diamond Bluff has already spent $116,000 on Sea Wing Park. The park has a boat launch, paved parking lot, a beach and playground equipment.

The town is planning expansions, including handicapped-accessible fishing piers, a pavilion, picnic tables, signs and a kiosk. Riverfront erosion control is also planned.

Land Management Committee members believe the park will benefit the county's tourism industry, said Supervisor Don Nellessen, Town of Gilman.

"It's an area that a lot of people will be able to use," he said. "I think this is a good place to put our money."

The park started with "two little girls raising $100," said Supervisor Rich Purdy, Town of River Falls. He said private companies have donated work and the town has obtained grants.

"They're doing all the work. We're helping a community activity," he said.

Park fund rules say a town is eligible for 10 percent of the park fees generated in that town up to a maximum grant of $5,000 per year.

The money can also be spent on parks of countrywide significance.

Sea Wing Park has regional significance, said Purdy.

During a July joint meeting of the Land Management Committee and the Parks Committee, supervisors heard three requests from groups wanting to tap the Park Development Fund. Members endorsed the Sea Wing request, postponed action on a request from the Town of Martell for money to help improve a 3.5 acre park along the Rush River and denied a request from the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust for $500,000 to $300,000 to help buy 230 acres in the Town of Clifton.

The Diamond Bluff park takes its name from a boat called the Sea Wing. The vessel, built in Diamond Bluff, set sail July 13, 1890, with a local group going from Red Wing to Lake City, Minn., for a military event. The boat capsized, and 98 people-10 from Diamond Bluff and 10 from the Trenton area-died.

More can be found on the Sea Wing disaster on the Pierce County Herald Web site located at or by clicking on the link above.

Judy Wiff is the Regional Editor for the RiverTown Newspaper Group and can be contacted at or 715.426.1049.