Effort to put RV campground in Central Park ramping up

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Crookston Park Board members got a preliminary look Tuesday at what will become the Central Park campground complete with 40 full hook-up sites for recreational vehicles (RVs), a new bathhouse, and potentially a new Park Ranger station. Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle displayed a first drawing concept designed by local engineers at Widseth and mentioned he and Parks & Rec Supervisor Scott Butt would be meeting with them again this week to go over design options, and hoped to incorporate any feedback the Park Board had for the campground.

    It was suggested that a public forum be held so residents are able to weigh in with their thoughts on design and amenities, and Riopelle agreed saying one of the Park Board’s next meetings could serve as that purpose and an invitation to the public will be announced.

    The campground is budgeted for $1.79 million which is offset by a Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails grant for $1.35 million. The city’s matching portion of the grant will go towards construction of a new bathhouse which would double as a storm shelter and will have approximately four bathroom stalls and two showers with a possible third shower being discussed. The RV sites will have full electric and sewer hookups with the ability to be removed during flood season, Riopelle told the board.

    “The minute those things go under water you have to replace all the guts so if we do a quick disconnect option to remove any boxes, any power panels we have out there, that would be good,” he explained. “We (the campground) are licensed from May 15 to the end of September and then we have Express Personnel come in and rent spots from us and go into a little part of October.”

    There are future plans to add a playground in Central Park at the top of the hill near the pool, but the current skate park will be removed as, Riopelle noted, there is another skate park at Highland Complex (now called Ray Ecklund Complex) and the Central Park skate park “isn’t the proper place” and “won’t really match the clientele.” Riopelle also proposed they build a 16x16 Park Ranger house that could sit at the entrance to the park near Ash Street and serve as a place for campers to register and see what spots are available.

    Park Board member Brigette Burzette-Deleon asked Riopelle about alternative sites for events and programs typically held in Central Park during the summer such as Club Kid, Wojo Rodeo and Night to Unite, and he said he has introduced Castle Park as an option for the rodeo and Night to Unite with the large flat area available, plus he’s already had conversations with the Crookston Classic Cruisers and Ox Cart Days about their car show and August events.

    “I tried to be ahead of the game with events so it wasn’t a rude awakening,” Riopelle added.

    Construction for the Central Park campground is planned for summer 2021 with design approval first needed by the Park Board and City Council, plus bids needing approval from those entities as well. Riopelle said he hopes they can start construction in June as the grant will need to be used in 2021.

    Red River Valley Shows’ planned campground was also a topic of discussion with Park Board Chair Mike LaFrance asking if RRV’s is intended to compete with the city’s planned campground and Riopelle said he believes their campground is intended for participants in their horse shows and the city’s has more of a park setting.