Lake cities of Ottertail, Battle Lake growPublished 10:20am Friday, March 18, 2011
Twenty-five years ago Wayne and Ethelynn Snyder had a dream that they would someday retire in Lakes Country.
The couple was living near Breckenridge, in the town of Campbell, when a friend presented them with an opportunity to buy a lot on the shore of Donald’s Lake in the city of Ottertail.
“We bought with the intentions that this would be our retirement home,” Ethelynn said. “It was just our dream.”
That was the mid 1980s and there were only three homes standing on the south side of Ottertail. Today, 25 years later, more than 30 homes sit in the Snyder’s neighborhood off of Portage Road, Lynn Road, Three Lakes Road and West Avenue. There are other newer developments sprinkled around Ottertail, as well.
“We held onto our property for 20 years and built our home about four years ago,” Wayne said. He built his 70-foot home himself, with the exception of the pouring of the cement foundation and some heating and cooling work, he said.
Ottertail’s population grew 27 percent during the last decade, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. There were 451 people living in Ottertail in 2000. By last year that number grew to 572 people — an increase of 121 people, who like the Snyders, were drawn to the small town.
Battle Lake saw a similar trend. The city saw a 26.5 percent population increase as its residents grew from 686 in 2000 to 875 in 2010 — an increase of 189 people.
Wayne and Ethelynn Snyder were drawn to Ottertail because they found it to be people friendly, quiet and on a small lake.
“Ottertail has all the conveniences of a big city,” Ethelynn said.
“There’s good medical services, a bank, grocery store, bakery and some very good restaurants,” she said.
“And there’s some real good fishing,” Wayne added.
Ottertail also has access to a real good school system, something that was important to the Snyders because their granddaughter lives with them. She attends school in Perham, which is only about 12 miles away.
Raymond Mounts was the mayor of Ottertail for 28 years and a councilmember for five years before that. He stepped down last November but was mayor during the growth years of the 2000s.
“Parts of five lakes are in the city limits and most of our growth was around those lakes,” Mounts said.
But the community is beginning to run out of lakeshore property.
“But there are some back lots that are very, very good. That’s where I think we will keep growing,” he said.
Like Ethelynn Snyder, Mounts sees access to education as a selling point for Ottertail, too. He says busses from New York Mills, Perham, Henning and Battle Lake all run into his city, giving families broad education options.
Battle Lake, about 15 miles southwest of Ottertail on Highway 78, experienced similar population growth.
Mayor Chuck Reeve has been in office two years and served on the council for six years prior to that.
Reeve has seen population increase on West Battle Lake as the older cabins have given way to newer, bigger homes filled with fulltime residents.
“We’re filled pretty much to the max along the lake, though,” Reeve said.
The Good Samaritan nursing home and assisted living center built in Battle Lake also contributed to the city’s growth — including 55 people at the new rehabilitation and skilled nursing center, Reeve said. Some apartments and the occasional new homes have also been built, Reeve said.
“We’re sure glad to be growing as opposed to be going the other way,” Reeve said.