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Parks Board seeks to raise $25,000 for construction of Pioneer Park bathrooms

The bricks, now available for purchase, can be designed with logos as well as names and will be placed along a pathway in Pioneer Park in an effort to raise funds for the construction of bathrooms downtown. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise)

The City of Park Rapids has come up with a plan for the construction of bathrooms in Pioneer Park downtown, drawn by an architect that had been sent out to seven contractors to submit bids and a completion date.

The Pioneer Park restrooms were put on the city's 2017 Capital Improvement Plan, after the Parks & Beautification Board pushed back all other projects in order to make the installation of bathrooms within Pioneer Park a priority this year.

The approved allocation of funds for the project were $25,000 from the levy, $25,000 from discretionary funds and another $25,000 raised through fundraising efforts.

Originally, the project cost was estimated at $75,000 but the lowest bid came in at $104,140 from Haataja Contracting out of Menahga.

The bids for the project were taken to the city council at Tuesday's regular meeting where the council was asked to decide whether or not they would move forward with the project before having all of the funding in place.

Currently, the Parks Board has raised approximately $3,500 through the donation boxes placed at various business around town as well as through their latest fundraiser. The Parks Board is now making a push for financial donations through the Pioneer Memorial Pathway brick sales to reach their fundraising goal of $25,000.

"We believe it's going to make more than that," building maintenance superintendent Chris Fieldsend said. "And our primary project is to get the bathrooms done."

Fieldsend added that if they exceed their initial goal of $25,000, the first $25,000 will go toward building the bathrooms in Pioneer Park and any extra money would go toward park improvements.

The pathway, which is approximately 135 feet long, has been designed to start in the front of the park and will wind through the park to the back, connecting sidewalk to sidewalk.

The bricks, which are now available for purchase, will be laser etched with custom designed engravings by Painted Oaks, LLC in Park Rapids.

There are two different styles available. The larger style, consisting of six bricks, can be purchased with a donation of $750. Single bricks can be purchased with a donation of $100.

According to Liz Smith, a member on the Parks Board, the single bricks can have up to three lines with 17 characters per line including spaces and punctuation. The bricks can be engraved with names as well as logos.

"People can be really creative. They need not think it's just somebody's name. They can put an organization. They can write a poem. They can put a marriage proposal. They can write a haiku," Smith said. "Kids who are graduating, if they have a favorite teacher or coach, ten of them getting together would cost $10 each."

Mike Bruhn of Park Rapids joined the board in their fundraising effort by passing out flyers to merchants, businesses and offices throughout the community.

"I mention this project and a lot of people are aware and have heard about it already, so they're not clueless," Bruhn said. "Hopefully, the positive response I've heard will convey into the monetary needs of the project."

Based on the size and width of the pathway, there are only 400 single bricks available for purchase and 32 of the larger bricks available.

"Everybody in town has said there is such a need for bathrooms and this is a person's opportunity to get on board and be a contributor," Smith said. "If it's too much then go in with a family member, or maybe two families can go in together or three family members, split up the cost so that we get the money to put the bathrooms in because it is going to be a wonderful addition for downtown."

"On those home improvement shows they say your best investment in your home is your kitchen and your bathroom," Bruhn jokingly added. "And by doing that we're investing in our community. It's just something that you don't think about. It's such a basic and fundamental thing."

For individuals or groups interested in making a contribution by purchasing a brick for the pathway, applications are available at City Hall.