Park Rapids parks board updates parks and trails plan

Priorities for improvement include Depot Park tennis courts, Deane and Kaywood park amenities, and Rice Park.

This stone performance platform in Deane Park, dating back to the era of the Works Progress Administration, is one of the structures the Park Rapids Parks Board is considering having restored by a young adults' vocational program affiliated with AmeriCorps. (Courtesy of the City of Park Rapids)

The Park Rapids Parks and Beautification Board recommended an update of the city’s Comprehensive Parks and Trails Plan on Jan. 11 for adoption by the city council.

The full text of the plan update is online at

A public hearing about the plan will be held before the Park Rapids Planning Commission at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25 at city hall. Subject to the planning commission’s recommendation, the plan will then be considered by the city council.

Final changes in the plan, approved in the same motion by board chair Sue Cutler, included the following changes relating to improvements for the Fish Hook Lake beach area at Deane Park:

  • Deleting a goal to purchase property to the west of the beach, allowing the beach to expand.

  • Deleting a goal to add swimwear changing facilities, a sunbathing deck and picnic area.

  • Changing a goal about replacing the park’s cul-de-sac access to provide more space for turning and parking, to a more general goal about improving the parking area.

The plan will also include the results of a survey of residents in the Kaywood Park neighborhood about how or whether they would like to see the park improved.
Regarding the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, the parks plan ranks the funding priorities for park improvements as follows:


  1. Rebuilding the tennis courts at Depot Park, approximately $350,000.

  2. Replacing the pavilion at Deane Park, along with placing a sculpture and other improvements, approximately $250,000.

  3. Adding a splash pad and parking lot at Depot Park in partnership with the Park Rapids Lions Club, approximately $200,000.

  4. Kaywood Park improvements, including a walking trail, picnic benches and signage, approximately $50,000.

  5. Substantial improvements at Rice Park, approximately $350,000.

In other business, the parks board:

  • Elected its officers for 2021, including Cutler as chair, Elmer Schoon as vice-chair and Barb Thomason as secretary.

  • Debated how to balance the sentiments expressed by residents who responded to the Kaywood Park survey. Nine of 23 respondents asked for children’s playground equipment while others objected to having a play area in their backyard. The board also discussed strategies to keep motor vehicles off the park’s pedestrian path.

  • Discussed having Flagship Recreation of Lake Elmo provide a quote to replace playground equipment at Deane Park as well as a cost estimate to replace the park’s pavilion.

  • Discussed an offer by Northern Bedrocks, an AmeriCorps program based in Duluth that focuses on historic restoration, to preserve the WPA-era stone performance platform and echo ring at Deane Park. City Planner Andrew Mack said that for $12,000, Northern Bedrocks would bring six young adults and a supervisor to camp out at the site and work for a week, while the community pays for the materials and provides mentoring expertise.

  • Heard that $6,000 in donations have been collected to purchase the AntVenture sculpture to place in Deane Park, including $2,000 from the PRACF, $1,000 from the Rotary and $3,000 from Heartland Arts. Mack said this will be enough to buy the artwork, and that former parks board member Liz Smith has expressed interest in donating funds for the installation. This would include an 8-by-8-foot concrete pad, possibly topped with a pad for the safety of children who might climb on the sculpture.

  • Heard that $109,690 in donations have been collected for the Depot Park tennis courts replacement project, including $5,000 from Hubbard County, $2,500 from the Park Rapids Area Community Fund (PRACF), $25,000 from one donor and another, anonymous donation of $50,000.

  • Heard that the PRACF did not fund the Lions Club’s grant request for the Depot Park splash pad, apparently because the project had not been developed enough. Board member Larry Novak, a Lions Club member, to resubmit the request at a later date with more precise information. Mack stressed that before a matching grant be requested from the Lions Clubs International Foundation, it needs to be approved by the city council. Mack also advised club members on the board to employ Tom Stursa as a grant writer.

The next parks board meeting is scheduled for noon Monday, Feb. 8 at city hall. The board also plans to have a joint work session with the city council at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23 at city hall.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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