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Pioneer Park proposal will include toddler playground

Pioneer Park has been home to many concerts, one farmers market and other activities. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

A proposal to develop Pioneer Park in downtown Park Rapids into a toddler park will be presented to the City Council at an upcoming meeting.

The idea was brought to the Park Board Monday night by Sheri, Todd and Melissa Sanquist, who have raised money for park development in memory of Dawn Anderson, who was murdered in March.

The Sanquist family has raised about $20,000 already in a memorial fund for Anderson.

The preliminary design includes a cement circular patio on the east side, along with some open space. A toddler play area will be toward the west side of the park and include several pieces of play equipment. The plan would include space on the east side of the park to accommodate a stage for use in downtown activities.

Amber Aspengren, sales consultant for Flagship Recreation, has been working with the Sanquists and said right now the proposal is just a concept. Details would be decided further along in the process.

Ruth Ann Campton voiced her concerns about developing the park because it is used by the Farmers' Market Wednesdays and Saturdays for about six months out of the year. She was concerned that the proposed design would not leave room for the vendors to set up their tables.

It was suggested that the Farmers' Market could apply for a permit with the city to set up on a downtown side street.

Campton was concerned, however, that it would be difficult to set up tents on blacktop and it would also be very hot on some summer days. The Farmers' Market has up to 20 vendors and has been using the park for seven years.

The Park Board passed a motion to develop the park into a children's park and make a proposal to the City Council.

The Sanquists will work with Aspengren to figure out some preliminary cost estimates. They would like to see the first phase of the development done by the summer of 2012.

Judee Bjorn attended Tuesday's City Council meeting and voiced opposition to the toddler park.

"I think it would be a mistake," she said of taking away some of the green space downtown.

The council had not yet received the proposal from the Park Board.

City administrator Bill Smith said he thought it would likely be on the Oct. 25 agenda.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561