Crookston Parks & Recreation budget talks on CSC, equipment

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Described as a “big one to get through” the Crookston Parks & Recreation 2022 preliminary budget showed increases in each area including organized recreation (activities/programs) with an increase of $17,423; Crookston Community Pool increase of $33,171; Ray Ecklund Park Complex (formerly Highland Park) increase of $3,816; skating rinks expenses increase of $1,587; Downtown Square increase of $838; Crookston Sports Center increase of $44,733; Golden Link Senior Center increase of $20,000; and municipal park expenses increase of $76,222. There was no increase requested for the forestry/tree program.

    In the Parks & Rec five-year capital improvement plan, it lists picnic tables and benches at $1,000 per year, park development matching funds at $5,000 per year, arena improvements at $10,000 per year, electric zamboni battery reserves at $4,000 per year, mower at $60,000 per year (though 2022 showed $65,000); and pool improvements at $30,000 per year. Specifically in 2022, arena update controls are listed at $26,000 and fencing at Ecklund Complex at $20,000. In 2023, there’s a line item for a groomer at $15,000; floor scrubber at $10,000; and playground equipment/fitness course at $40,000. In 2024, there’s a plan for $40,000 in playground equipment and, in 2025, another $40,000 for playground equipment with the five-year total CIP coming out to $2,511,000.

    During the discussion on neighborhood skating rinks, council members wondered if there would be more rinks going up and City Administrator Amy Finch suggested the city do a survey to get public feedback before making a balanced decision.

    “The Alexander (Street) rink: some love it there and some don’t like it,” Finch explained. “I think it was well used there, but there are some issues with aesthetics.”

    Parks & Rec Supervisor Scott Butt said the city does plan to do some repairs and maintenance on the skating rink boards and said they do have more board to do a half rink in another neighborhood if that’s what’s decided. Butt added that Carman Park on the city’s south end could be another location option as there are already lights there, but it comes down to what the community wants.

    The discussion then shifted to the Crookston Sports Center, the electric zambonis and LED lighting. Ward 2 city council member Steve Erickson wondered if they’ve ever found out about cost savings from changing lights to LED and Butt said he would have to study the utility bills. Butt pointed out that he hasn’t had to change a bulb since they were replaced with LED lights and noted the city has gotten a lot of compliments on the LED lighting though he acknowledges compliments “don’t pay the bills.”

    In regards to the electric zambonis, Butt reminded the council they received a Mighty Ducks grant to purchase two electric zambonis, “basically buy one get one free”, and the reserves for the electric batteries are earmarked.

    “Now we’re not buying propane for them and dealing with emissions,” Butt explained. “Having battery operated ones have turned out to be a really good thing.”

    Finch jumped in to say there have also been some unique ideas discussed with Parks & Rec and Crookston Public Schools about increasing the use of the CSC and helping to cover costs by hosting other events such as wrestling tournaments by placing special mats over the ice.

    “We’ve talked about getting more use out of our community center (CSC) and there’s not a hockey arena in the state that makes money, but we should strive in generating revenue,” added Ward 6 council member Dylane Klatt with backup from Ward 3’s Clayton Briggs and Ward 5’s Joe Kresl saying the city needs more events to fill hotels, restaurants and bars.