They will schedule another discussion for November.
What is the potential? What are the possibilities? What can we do with our facilities? Those were the questions at Tuesday’s community discussion led by the Crookston Park Board. There were only a handful of community members, but a “lot of decision makers” in Bede Ballroom tossing around ideas which led to the scheduling of another community discussion for November to talk about the possibility of a sports bubble, an expansion on the Crookston Sports Center or a separate community wellness event center.
City Administrator Shannon Stassen said the city is best to take the lead on a larger project, though the council “might get mad” at him for saying that, and thinks it would be best off the University of Minnesota Crookston campus, but “still close to it.”
“It will take years, all the hoops you have to jump through,” he stated. “There’s competition for the turf at the CSC (currently) and the sports court could stay up (if there was a new facility.)
“Either the expansion of the CSC or this (new) facility needs a task force right away,” Stassen added. “There are revenue sources, it could be spread out over time.”
Ward 2 City Council Member Steve Erickson thought the city needs to have more communication with sports associations that might have funding and could be interested in a new facility as well.
Parks & Recreation Supervisor Scott Butt and KROX Radio owner Chris Fee talked to the group about a sports bubble with turf like they’ve seen at St. Cloud State, Minot State, Concordia-St. Paul, and Eden-Prairie, which has one over their high school. Fee said it would be a $2 million project “at least” and Butt wondered who they could partner with so it doesn’t become “such a tax burden.”
“We need to do something,” Butt said bluntly. “We’re sending money out of town. UMC is playing their last three home (football) games in the Alerus (Center) because their field is shot, other teams are going to Grand Forks.”
“We need something year-round for the community,” Butt added. “Look at some of these sports bubbles where they have college fast-pitch softball, they play all day. Those are great things to bring people to town, it gives our kids some place to go, too, when there’s nothing going on.”
Fee continued, saying he’s talked with other high schools and it could come down to Crookston being the host of section tournaments if there was a sports bubble. He added that a pitch to legislature, with Deb (Kiel) and Mark (Johnson) being “pretty powerful” now compared to when they “first got started”, could help. Fee said if it was called the “Northwest Minnesota Regional Events Center” or something similar, it could bring in more partnership and “take away regional and section tournaments from Fargo and Grand Forks.”
Other people around the room, like the people at Nate Lubarski’s table, also brought up a sports bubble with turf for the community when asked about their “wish lists.”
Besides a sports bubble, there were plenty of other ideas, “wishes” and “dreams” floating around Bede Ballroom Tuesday evening while jazz music played downstairs in Sargeant Student Center where another event was happening. Attendees wrote their items down on Post-It notes and then took turns reading them aloud.
• CSC locker room remodel and expansion
• Athletic training facility
• Community Center/Wellness Center with a “birthday room”
• Moving the Golden Link Senior Center to an expanded CSC or new wellness facility
• Floor cover for the event arena at the CSC during events
• CSC addition for the sports floor and/or turf
• Outdoor pool
• Concession area at the current Crookston Community Pool
• Zero-entry pool to accommodate children and senior citizens
• New safe house at Highland
• Better boat launch in Central Park
• Inclusive playground for kids with disabilities
• Enhanced green space at former Franklin school to accommodate football, soccer, etc.
• More bathrooms in different areas of Highland Park
• Walking trails next to the river
• Outdoor stage/amphitheater
• A staff person to market our current facilities and amenities
• Enhance camping and swimming in the river
• Equipment that the community can check out
• Community classes at the pool like teaching how to kayak
• Escape Room
• Mini bowling alley
• Bar attached to the arena
• Bathhouse at Carman Park
• Climbing wall, ninja course
• Fitness challenges
• Mini golf
• Outdoor rinks
• Plumbing at Karn Field
• Outfield bleachers at Karn Field
Other items mentioned included renovating the horseshoe pit area at Highland Park with a possible basketball court and/or corn hole equipment, another sheet of ice, a new football field, a better partnership with UMC, a new shelter at Wildwood Park (which is currently in the works), and better use of the golf simulator at the CSC.
During the beginning of Tuesday’s conversation, when asked what people were most proud of in regards to current parks and facilities, answers included Castle Park, how many sheets of ice Crookston has, the CSC, weight room, pool, Karn Field, upkeep of facilities and parks, Highland Park, tennis courts, softball and baseball diamonds, river access, biking and trails.