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Nevis seeks county funds to replace playground equipment

Sue Gray from the Nevis City Council addressed county commissioners Tuesday morning regarding the installation of new playground equipment at Halvorson Beach Park in Nevis and the possibility of receiving financial support from Hubbard County.

"I am here today to ask for money," Gray said jokingly.

She explained that Nevis is in the midst of a project to replace the old lead-based playground equipment at the park. Their parks committee has estimated the total project cost at $54,734.25, which includes the equipment, the underlayment of engineered wood fiber, installation, shipping, site prep and other miscellaneous costs.

"The city itself is putting $5,000 away every year, but this year we did install a dock at that park next to the swimming beach so people could bring their boats up and access the park. At present, we have almost $6,300 in our Parks Improvement Fund and in addition to that we have received $10,200 in donations," she said. "We have not begun to send letters out. We have not had any advertising done yet; we were waiting to come to the county board. The Lions Club in Nevis is sponsoring the fundraising part of it. As soon as we have some word from you (the board) as to whether there is matching funds the letters will go out."

Gray asked the board to match their fundraising goal of $25,000 to achieve a total amount of $50,000 to go toward the project.

"If that is possible it appears that we could have this playground equipment in by the end of this year," she said.

The county's decision to disburse funds toward the project have been contingent on the City of Park Rapids' decision regarding the county purchasing lots on Fish Hook Lake within Deane Point Park for the city.

Hubbard County Land Commissioner Mark "Chip" Lohmeier informed commissioners that he had attended the last Park Rapids City Council meeting where they deferred the decision to the finance committee to assess the possibility of funds being available for the purchase in 2018.

"They are hoping that the finance committee will bring back a recommendation at their next council meeting," Lohmeier said, adding the next city council meeting will be held Aug. 8.

According to Commissioner Charlene Christenson, she has received calls from Hubbard County residents in opposition of the purchase and has been asked that the board consider withdrawing the offer and instead divvy the money up throughout the county.

"The comments that I've heard is that there are plenty of other parks in Park Rapids and they're not overcrowded," Christenson said.

"At the last parks board meeting, we heard from Ms. Gray and also the City of Akeley and they both have requests into the parks board for fix-up funds for their parks. We kind of have our hands tied right now with this money hanging out there on this Deane Point thing," Commissioner Cal Johannsen said. "We need to make a decision and I think the City needs to make a decision and we need to move forward one way or the other. I think we made them a pretty gracious offer and if they're not willing to move forward then maybe we just need to withdraw the offer and move on with some of these other projects."

"I think Nevis is ready to rock and roll and they're looking for some cash," he added.

Commissioner Ed Smith questioned what the total funds available in the parks and recreation account were.

"Right off the top of my head I can't tell you but if you remember when we apportioned dollars last year. We apportioned a higher rate than normal because of this project and then we thought the project was dead so we didn't apportion as much this year to bring that fund balance back down," Lohmeier said. "And now the project is live again and that's why we're hesitant to give any indication as to whether we could help fund Nevis and Akeley because we don't know whether the project will go through or not."

"I think at the first of the year our fund balance was right around $500,000. Our anticipated expenses for the year was about $200,000 and then we apportioned dollars," he added.

"If we take this action and act on the City of Nevis could we still be safe?" Commissioner Vern Massie asked.

"If we purchase these lots for the $265,000, we'd really have to take a look at where our fund balance is in order to fund the Nevis project this year," Lohmeier responded, "because the City of Park Rapids is looking at a five-year payment plan to repay that $132,500. That might give us some cash flow issues."

The county board requested that the City of Park Rapids notify the county of their decision regarding the purchase of the lots on Deane Point Park by the board's Aug. 15 meeting.

Regarding the City of Nevis' request for funding, the commissioners expressed their support pending the review and recommendation of the request from the Parks and Recreation Board.

In other business, county commissioners did the following:

• Approved the purchase of a 2018 Ford Expedition for the Social Services Office in the car pool in the amount of $38,705 from Park Rapids Ford.

• Adopted a resolution to offer certain parcels of land in Farden Township, City of Akeley and the City of Park Rapids for sale that have forfeited to the State of Minnesota and have been classified as non-conservation lands by Minnesota Statute.

• Adopted a resolution classifying two tax-forfeited parcels in Farden Township as non-conservation.

• Authorized an expenditure of up to $3,000 for the purchase of a pressure washer for the transfer station, with report of quotes to be provided at the next board meeting.

• Reviewed the results of the July 2017 timber auction which resulted in a total of $257,494.91 in sales.

• Approved the purchase of five additional Information Systems Corporation Application Xtender System Licenses in the amount of $9,897 with payment from budgeted funds.

• Authorized the purchase of a new Guardian scanner unit for the Sheriff's Office in the amount of $2,010 from Codex Corp out of Maple Grove to ensure compatibility with existing equipment.

• Approved an amendment to Ordinance No. 34 after a public hearing regarding signage, effective Aug. 9.

• Accepted the resignation of Karen Van De Venter, administrative assistant at the Veteran's Service Office, who will be retiring effective Sept. 1.

• Approved the payment of $5,000 toward the Chamber of Commerce's branding campaign to be paid from general revenue monies.

The next Hubbard County Board meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 1 at the Hubbard County Government Center.