Naming contest, grand opening could be on the way in the spring.

Certainly, it hasn't always been smooth sailing for city officials and city council members as the original idea for a "downtown square" in Crookston surfaced what seems like a long time ago and eventually led to dollars being allocated and a "pavilion" building being constructed for $100,000.

But, now that the Pavilion structure is essentially finished – electricity is being extended to the structure – one could argue that there are still many important decisions to be made as the fledgling downtown amenity gets a little history under its belt.

While the electrical work continues and grass seed is planted, city council members need to decide how best to utilize the structure and surrounding Downtown Square property. Should it, for the most part, be treated like any other city park, meaning that a family could rent it for something as small as a child's birthday party? Or should the Pavilion be utilized solely for larger events, like celebrations or festivals on a community-wide level? And when it is used by an entity other than the city, what should it cost to use it? Who's going to be responsible for cleaning up after an event? If local service clubs or other organizations want to get involved by possibly donating some amenities or sweat equity, what will they be encouraged and/or allowed to do? Is the Downtown Square now essentially finished, or is there more to come in the future? Will the amenity be given a name, or will it just continue to be known as the Downtown Square and Pavilion?

Ward 4 Council Member Hector Santellanes, speaking at a recent council Ways & Means Committee meeting, said the answers to all of those questions maybe should come in phases. But one of the first things that needs to happen, he suggests, is that the location be given a name, and he thinks that naming it should be part of a community-wide contest.

Another thing that should happen sooner rather than later, Interim City Administrator Pat Kelly added, is a grand opening celebration. He figures next spring will be a good time for such an event, and said he likes the idea of maybe announcing the winning name at the event.

As for the nuts and bolts decisions that include user fees and things like that, Mayor Dave Genereux said the city and Chamber of Commerce staff need to put some proposed procedures on paper and see what the council thinks of them. "What will people have to do, and how will they do it if they want to use it?" Genereux said.

Ward 5 Council Member Dale Stainbrook said part of the getting-out-the-word effort needs to be about convincing people that the Downtown Square and Pavilion are about much more than the Crookston Farmers' Market that takes place there twice per week during the growing season. "It's for weddings, maybe a family reunion, a festival, it's kind of wide open at this point," he said.

Maybe the "wide open" part needs to be narrowed a bit, though, At Large Council Member Wayne Melbye said. "We don't necessarily want it to be just another park," he said. "But we need to sit down and figure out what we're going to allow and how we're going to allow it. ...We need to know who's going to be in control so we can make some decisions; there are people who want to use it soon."

The Pavilion, Chamber President/CEO Shannon Stassen said, will be the focal point for Winter Wonderland in early December.

Kelly said simply having to make the procedural-type of decisions is a good thing, and shows how far the project has come. "This is what we need to focus on now," he said. "Before, it was about getting it built and operational, and we were able to do that."

He asked council members to email him their suggestions about things they'd like to see take place at the Downtown Square Pavilion, and possibly things that they think shouldn't take place there.