The Park Rapids Parks and Beautification Board took steps Monday toward updating the city’s comprehensive parks and trails master plan for the first time since 2008.

First, the parks board approved a motion by Liz Smith to incorporate a proposal for in-town ATV “connection routes” in the plan, to connect ATV trail users with businesses in the city.

Forest Riders ATV Club representatives Ron Jensen and Jerry Grudem presented their proposal, which would give recreational ATV users access to hotels, fuel and downtown businesses without requiring a license to operate on city streets.

City Planner Andrew Mack stressed that having this as part of a master plan is a first step, so that such details as routes, costs, funding and agreements with law enforcement and road authorities can be hammered out in later phases of implementation.

Parks board members also discussed corrections for the final draft of the master plan update, with Mack advising them to read through it once more and email final corrections to him. Board consensus was to submit the corrected draft to the city’s planning commission for discussion at a public hearing, with the commission to make a recommendation to the city council for or against the plan’s approval.

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Mack said the hearing would likely take place in January 2021, putting it before the city council no earlier than their first meeting in February.

He added that the parks board will have an opportunity to revisit its parks and trails plan in 2022, when the city is scheduled to update its capital improvement plan.

In other parks board business:

  • Board members finalized the questionnaire to be distributed to residents in the Kaywood neighborhood, regarding how they would prefer to see Kaywood Park developed.

  • Mack reported that Public Works Superintendent Scott Burlingame thinks the damaged metal musical sculpture in Pioneer Park can be repaired and does not need to be removed.

  • Mack reported that the city engineer reviewed the results of soil borings at the Depot Park tennis courts. “The bad news,” he said, “is that there’s substantial reconstruction of the existing courts (to be done). They have to be torn out and excavated to a depth of at least four feet below the court surface. So, there is going to be considerable additional cost on the reconstruction.” He anticipated a more detailed report by the city engineer at the park board’s December meeting.

  • Mack reported that a grant application was submitted to the Park Rapids Area Community Fund for $5,000 toward the purchase of the Ant-Venture sculpture for display in Deane Park. Liz Smith added that LuAnn Hurd-Lof requested $1,200 from the Rotary Club toward the same project.

The park board’s next meeting is scheduled for noon on Monday, Dec. 14 at Park Rapids City Hall.