The Park Rapids Parks and Beautification Board decided Monday how to deal with damage to the musical sculptures in Pioneer Park.

One of the notes of a xylophone-like instrument made of PVC pipes and played with flip-flops, and a note on one of two metal chime instruments designed to be struck with rubber mallets, were damaged in August or early September.

The instruments were created by Boy Scout Parker Harmon as part of his Eagle Scout project. Harmon installed them on June 26, with the help of city maintenance staff and fellow members of Boy Scouts Troop 56 of Nevis.

In addition to the broken notes, parks board chair Sue Cutler described the paint on the metal chimes as “quite chipped.” She suggested replacing the rubber mallets with wooden spoons to minimize further damage.

It is unclear whether the damage was caused by rough use or unforeseen wear. Board members discussed the feasibility of monitoring the park with security cameras, but tabled that discussion for a later meeting.

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City Planner Andrew Mack said it appears that the broken metal chime was struck on the weld, where it was weakest. He agreed to return the metal mallets to Harmon.

Harmon said the PVC instrument can be repaired, but the metal sculpture most likely is not repairable. He said he will call on his Scouting friends to help remove it, and his family will keep it in case they need to use parts of it to repair the remaining metal sculpture.

Cutler voiced regret that Harmon’s sculptures were not vandal-resistant. “Things are really subject to vandalism,” she said. “I think it maybe would have been better if you’d worked with a company that manufactures the type of thing you made.”

A motion by Cutler to remove the irreparably damaged sculpture passed without dissent.

CIP priorities

The parks board reviewed park improvement priorities for the city’s 2021-25 capital improvement plan (CIP).

After some discussion, board member Liz Smith moved to set the priorities as follows, starting with the highest priority:

  1. Replacing the Depot Park tennis courts.

  2. Replacing the Deane Park pavilion.

  3. Adding a “splash pad” water feature to Depot Park.

  4. Improving Kaywood Park.

  5. Improving Rice Park.

Further down in priority, and most likely outside the five-year time range of the CIP, Cutler also identified a second phase of Deane Park improvements.

Discussion also touched on a new park dedicated by the developers of the Meadowview apartments. Cutler said she feels the east side of the city is under-served with regard to parks.

The board members consented to asking board member Bruce Johnson to resign, because his work has prevented him from attending meetings.

Mack noted that Johnson’s absences have been excused, but added, “I did speak to Bruce, and he was questioning whether he really has the time to do this.” He suggested that Johnson would not object if Mack asked him to resign.

“Personally, I think that would be good,” said Cutler. “We need people who are going to be here.”

In other business:

  • Cutler reported that she, Mack, and Park Rapids Tennis Association Pres. Kathy Peterson had a very positive meeting at Depot Park with a grant specialist with the Minnesota DNR regarding the city’s chances of receiving a Land and Water Conservation (LAWCON) grant.

  • Board member Barb Thomason said they are waiting for the grant to open up for 2021 so they can reapply for the LAWCON grant and begin fundraising for the local match on the tennis courts project.

  • Mack reported meeting with the Forest Riders ATV Club, who plan to make a presentation at the parks board’s next meeting about including their ATV trail in the city’s Comprehensive Parks and Trails Plan. Board members also discussed strategies for getting public input on the plan.

  • Liz Smith reported that the city council will be asked to authorize a grant application to acquire the “Ant-Venture” sculpture as a permanent exhibit. Smith called the $2,500 grant “seed money” for the project.

The parks board’s next meeting is scheduled for noon on Monday, Nov. 9 at city hall.