Baird adds that City shop is ‘sad’

    When At Large Crookston City Council Member Bob Quanrud earlier this week expressed his concern that the City, in the proposed 2018 Parks & Recreation budget, was spending too much money on multi-use path/trail development, Ward 6 Council Member Tom Vedbraaten responded that maybe the City could hold off on some of its planned new trails and instead invest some of the money in fixing up various Parks & Recreation out-buildings in Highland Park, at Crookston Sports Center, and elsewhere.

    Why did Vedbraaten suggest that? Because a few minutes earlier in the budget discussion, At Large Council Member Bobby Baird said a lot of those out-buildings “look like crap.”

    “The sheds at the diamonds look like crap…side them, paint them, do something. The warming house at the arena looks like crap, too,” Baird said. “It just looks like heck and doesn’t represent our City very well when we can’t take care of our buildings. I’ve had people talk about them.”

    The City “shop” is no better, Baird added. “It’s sad,” he said.

    Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle said he’ll look into having the sheds and warming houses spruced up, and he doesn’t expect it’ll cost enough money to have to reallocate funds from other planned investments. If the City shop is to be fixed up at all, he added, that expense would come out of a different budget.

The Highland “hut” re-enters the discussion

    The talk of various City and Parks & Rec buildings in various degrees of disrepair, as it has before, invariably turned to the “hut” at Highland Complex. A couple years ago, a frustrated Crookston resident at a council meeting used some very strong words to describe her thoughts on the condition of the small building in Highland Park, specifically, its restroom facilities. She later backtracked some, albeit in less public fashion, when she realized that some of her criticisms were off the mark.

    But this week, Ward 2 Council Member Steve Erickson said the hut in its current state does not measure up to the nice amenities surrounding it, such as the baseball and softball diamonds, playground, splash park, and Lions picnic shelter.

“We have all those nice things and then people look at that building and say, ‘holy cow,’” Erickson said.

    Major investments haven’t been made in the hut, Riopelle explained, because the City continues to explore ways to pursue grant funding tied to constructing a facility that could fulfill the current functions of the hut while also serving as a safe house/emergency/storm shelter. The grant program includes 75 percent federal funding, with a 25 percent local contribution, Riopelle said. Funding was not available when he checked in two years ago, but it might be available now, he added.

    City Administrator Shannon Stassen said when he looks at the hut, he sees an old building that might need some minor fixes, but he certainly doesn’t see it as an eyesore that spurs public scorn.

    “Maybe you have a different eye, but I don’t think it looks like a bad building,” he said. “Maybe I’m the only one in the room, but I don’t think the hut looks as bad as everyone apparently thinks it does.”

    Stassen said that if funding for a safehouse/storm shelter is pursued or a building project is explored, it might end up being something closer to Jim Karn Field that serves the field as well as adjacent amenities in the park. “As far as the hut itself, I think it has a long, useful life ahead of it,” he added.

    Riopelle noted that the structure was initially a basic warming house many years ago when an outdoor ice-skating rink was located next to it.