The group of people working to make Crookston home to a splash park are keeping a very busy meeting schedule these days as they seek buy-in from various community groups, entities and organizations. They're going to have to stay busy, Parks & Recreation Manager Scott Riopelle told the Park Board this week, if they have any hope of meeting their "very aggressive" timeline of having a splash park in place by summer.
"It's quite an undertaking," Riopelle said.
Advisory group members Shirley Seddon Iverson and Ann Longtin will make what would seem to be a very important presentation on Monday, Feb. 25, when they speak to the Crookston School Board at the beginning of the board's 5 p.m. meeting at the high school. Board members will probably be very interested in what the women have to say, considering that the school district owns the Crookston Community Swimming Pool, and casual talk over the years about possibly adding a splash park on the pool property has been seen as a way to reduce the pool's annual operating deficit.
So far, Seddon Iverson and Longtin haven't mentioned the pool property as a potential location for the splash park. Instead, they're focusing on a city park, like Castle Park or Highland Park. Riopelle said he thinks Castle Park would be a more attractive location. Highland Park is home to the skate park, where older youth hang out, he said, adding that he thinks it would be better to separate the older kids from the young children that would use the splash park.
Riopelle stressed, however, that it's important for the school board to be brought into the loop. "You don't want to step on anyone's toes," he said.
On the list of hurdles in the way of the project becoming reality, the location at this point is likely dwarfed by finances. The splash park group is looking at two similar parks as a potential model for what they're envisioning in Crookston, and something on that scale would cost as much as $200,000.
Details on the costs to operate such a park also need to be determined, Riopelle said. Some splash parks have a simple switch that turns the water on and off. Other parks recycle the water to be reused, but that adds to equipment costs because special filters are needed. Other parks have water that simply flows down drains and into the city's sewer system.
"They're going to need some kind of operating plan," City Administrator Tony Chladek said. "The city is going to want to weigh in on it if it's on city property, with the water costs and liability issues. If they're deficient on information regarding annual water use costs, they're not going to get very far."
Page 2 of 2 - Private property is also a potential option, Riopelle said, adding that Ken Longtin owns a couple lots downtown south of Subway.
As far as revenue, as of now, the plan is for the splash park to be free, so that could be another issue up for discussion at some point.
After Monday's board meeting, splash park supporters will meet with the Pool Advisory Committee on Feb. 26 and the Early Childhood Initiative advisory group on March 7.
In the middle of all that, the Winter Tailgate sponsored by the Crookston Noonday Lions, postponed last week because of the blizzard, has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 28 from 5:15 to 7:15 p.m. at Crookston High School, prior to the Pirates boys' basketball game against Win-E-Mac. The event, which will feature pulled-pork sandwiches and loaded baked potatoes, will accept a free-will offering, with proceeds benefiting the Crookston Splash Park Project.
Seddon Iverson and Longtin also announce that Tiffani Broden has been named the "development manager" for the splash park initiative. If you're interested in joining the effort as a volunteer, hosting a fund-raiser at your business or workplace, or donating, contact Broden at 280-3454.