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Laporte park project is a go

The new shelter in Laporte is a long rectangular building next to the existing parking lot the DNR built last year.

BY Sarah smith

The Laporte community will get its new shelter/playground/ park project within the next two years.

Four years in the making, lots of fundraising, arm twisting and political cajoling, the Hubbard County Board on Tuesday gave the thumbs up to finishing the $184,000 project Tuesday.

Conceptually the project has changed dramatically from the charming gazebo initially planned, but a gazebo could still be added later.

A 30’ by 60’ covered shelter will take its place on the Highway 200 site downtown. It will include a play structure in the spring of 2015, picnic tables, grills and trash cans.

Regional Economic Development Director David Collins has been plugging away on the project since its inception.

“I can’t believe that Laporte, a town of 111 people, has already received 137 contributions,” Collins said in amazement. “They’re still fundraising.”

Locals have raised $15,120 to date from a direct mail solicitation.

County commissioner Cal Johannsen immediately wrote out a check for $500 and challenged fellow commissioners to match him.

Begun by former Laporte Mayor Craig Mackey, it is now in the hands of Mayor Joe Sawyer and all the cooperating agencies to complete.

Mackey was too busy running his grocery store and meat market on the corner that abuts the new park, on Highway 200 and the Paul Bunyan Trail, to run for re-election, but he has been active in the park planning.

The Minnesota DNR built a large parking area there last year, which started the ball rolling.

The county committed $12,500 in 2013, another $12,500 in 2014 and voted Tuesday to make $34,480 available over the next two years to build the shelter.

The park sits on a major bike and hiking trail, so it is centrally located for the city and planned as an events center.

“It’s built on DNR land and I don’t trust the DNR,” Johannsen said.

Construction is planned to start this summer. The two-year project should be completed by 2015.

Contributions can be sent to Laporte Community Shelter/ Playground/Park Project, Box 42 in Laporte, 56461.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364