Sites near swimming pool, at Town Square don’t make the cut

    So what's it going to be? Highland Park or Castle Park?   

    Those are the two locations for the Crookston Splash Park that the Park Board on Monday recommended as the finalists for the splash park's location. The two sites that were removed from consideration are property next to the Crookston Community Swimming Pool and the Town Square downtown.   

    A site near the pool was eliminated, splash park co-coordinator Shirley Iverson said, mostly because the land is owned by the school district and some type of agreement between the city and school district would have to be worked out in order to make it happen. "And the school district most definitely does not want to be in the splash park business," Iverson said.   

    As for the Town Square site, which Iverson's splash park partner Ann Longtin said is her preferred site, the city's chief concern is that it doesn't own the property and only leases it.   

    But things could change in the wake of Monday's discussion. For one, the Park Board is simply an advisory board to the Crookston City Council, which could view the splash park site differently. And, for another, Iverson said, there seems to be a strong sentiment in the community for a splash park located by the pool.   

    "Once it gets out to the public that you've narrowed it to Highland Park and Castle Park, are you prepared to hear from everyone who wants it by the pool?" Iverson asked board members after Monday's discussion. "Because that's what's probably going to happen."   

    Board members and City Administrator Shannon Stassen will take a wait-and-see approach for the time being. It's likely that a special Park Board meeting will be scheduled prior to the board's next regularly scheduled meeting in August so that Iverson and Longtin can stick to their timeline of having the splash park finished and ready for kids "by the first real warm day of next spring," Iverson said.   

    The splash park has been scaled back to a 500 square foot amenity that includes six water fountains that come shooting up from the ground. There will be no above-ground water toys, although Longtin said they could be added in the future if the funding is available. Approximately $50,000 has been raised to make the scaled-back splash park a reality.   

    An earlier fund-raising plan that included money for operations and maintenance after the splash park is constructed and up and running remains the goal, but is sort of in flux right now as Iverson and Longtin try to simply get it built. "The people who have contributed their money to this, they're wanting to know when it's going to actually happen," Iverson said. "They're wanting to see something happen sooner rather than later."   

    Castle Park remains in play because it's kind of becoming Crookston's go-to park, with the natural play space, new playground and dog park. But it lacks parking and restroom facilities, and, although water service comes to the park in general, it would need to be extended to the splash park site.   

    Highland Park remains a possibility because it has restrooms and a shelter, it's probably the city's busiest park, water service is already in the immediate area, and there's plenty of parking. But it would be located right next to the skate park that's popular with teens, and some park board members aren't sure if it's best to locate the two amenities so close to each other.    

    Park board members want more details before they choose a site. Before the special meeting is scheduled, board member Michelle Christopherson said she'd like to see a detailed cost breakdown and an analysis of the pros and cons of the Highland and Castle park sites.   

    "I want this to be located in the most cost efficient site, but also at the site that gives it the best possible chance to achieve the success that it deserves," Christopherson said. "These two entrepreneurs (Iverson and Longtin) have rallied the community and raised this money, and I think it's very important that we have all of the possible information we can have before we recommend a site."       

    Stassen said no spot is going to perfect, but as he considers Castle Park and Highland Park, he said he sees a Highland Park location benefiting the splash park, and sort of a vice versa effect in Castle Park. "I think if you put it in Castle Park, then the splash park benefits Castle Park because it'll bring more people there," he explained. "In Highland Park, you already have all the activity there, so that will naturally help the splash park."