Parks & Rec 2021 projects: New RV campground needs to get done

Mike Christopherson

The City of Crookston’s Parks & Recreation proposed capital improvement list for 2021 contains an eye-popping bottom line of just over $1.9 million.

But that’s only because $1.75 million of that total is for the renovation of Central Park into an RV campground with far better sewer, sanitation and electrical amenities and far more capacity for RVs than the current, small campground located in the park that’s considered largely “primitive.”

The project has been in the works for years, and two years ago the City, through its membership in the Red Lake River Corridor Enhancement Group joint powers board, was able to secure funding for the project through the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. While the initial plan was to get construction started this year, the COVID-19 pandemic made that virtually impossible. Interim City Administrator Angel Weasner told the Crookston Park Board this week that the RV campground project must be done in 2021 in order for the grant to be finalized in 2022.

The City’s share of the cost, or match in order to secure the grant, involves the construction of a bathhouse to serve the RV campground. In the grant application, the estimated cost was around $400,000. If the structure could be constructed with components of a “safehouse”-type of shelter for refuge during severe weather or other emergencies, Weasner said it’s possible that a program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency could fund 75% of the cost to build it. But, she cautioned, the chances of securing those dollars likely aren’t great.

The reason the full cost of the RV campground is included in the 2021 capital improvement list, Weasner explained, is because under the grant parameters, the City will pay the project costs up front and then be reimbursed by the grant.

Other proposed improvements

The rest of the 2021 capital improvement list for Parks & Recreation includes projects totaling $155,000.

There’s a $40,000 picnic shelter for Wildwood Park, $1,000 for new picnic tables and benches, and $5,000 for Parks & Rec’s annual matching park development grant program. Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle said he’d like to see all three remain on the list.

There is also $10,000 for improvements at Crookston Sports Center and $25,000 for improvements at Crookston Community Pool, of which the City took ownership in 2019. Weasner said the pool improvements mostly involve improved outdoor signage to increase its public profile, but she encouraged people to walk around inside the pool and note things they’d like to see improved.

The list also includes $20,000 for a utility vehicle and attached spray unit that would be used to spray for weeds in parks, on levees or on other City property. There is also $4,000 for an electric Zamboni battery reserve at CSC.

If there’s one item on the list that’s ripe for removal, it’s $50,000 for playground equipment in CSC Addition. With street access still limited and no lots sold and no homes being built in the long-envisioned residential subdivision northeast of CSC, both Weasner and Riopelle acknowledged that spending $50,000 on a playground in that area doesn’t make a lot of fiscal sense right now.