Perking up the Parks

It was a lengthy monthly park board meeting on Monday night at the Minot Municipal Auditorium, rescheduled from its usual third Tuesday so that some of its commissioners can attend the North Dakota Trails Conference in Bismarck today through Thursday.

Ken Kitzman and Meghan Lautenschlager of the Minot Area Community Foundation announced their findings in a community listening session, in which some 93 people were polled at nine different locations about their views on Minot and its facilities. What the Foundation discovered is that the community’s biggest concern is communication.

“We just don’t do a very good job of telling younger people what’s going on,” said Kitzman. Their recommendation would be for the city to design a user-friendly mobile application that would allow people to see what is going on in the area.

Pacing amenities to meet the demands of mushrooming growth was also an issue high on their list, with the population potentially jumping to 60,000 in the near future. “If we’re not proactive, we’re going to be so far behind,” Kitzman cautioned the board, suggesting that demographic shifts may prompt planners to have to think outside the box a little.

A number of the Foundation’s recommendations are project ideas the park board has been considering of late, but a few suggestions were rather novel, from utilizing informational QR barcodes around town to providing a curbside recycling program. Ultimately, Kitzman said “I’m not here to ask for anything specific tonight.” His and Lautenschlager’s hope was rather that the information they collected might help “plant a seed” in the commissioners’ minds.

Also discussed was the state of Souris Valley Golf Course, the restoration of which has been hampered by river silting and bad weather. Despite a bridge issue between holes 7 and 8, course golf pro Steve Kottsick believes the course can open with at least its front nine holes, and would venture to suggest that even 15 holes might be available for play in the near future.

“We’re doing fairly well considering we haven’t had very many nice days,” he said. Aside from grading work and some resodding that needs doing on holes 12, 13 and 16, he said that the biggest hurdle before a reopening now is finding enough people to clear and trim the course. “It’s doable,” said Kottsick, adding “I like to think the glass is half-full.”

Other points of business included:

– Sean Weeks with Ackerman-Estvold Engineering and Management Consulting Inc. presented a proposal for improvements to Radio City Park, adding additional parking and a basketball court to the 6.2 acre park. The board voted to authorize the development of a master plan.

– Brett Gurholt with engineering firm KLJ announced a trio of bids for work to be done at Roosevelt Park and its zoo, including the demolition and reconstruction of the railroad platform there, and the removal of the zoo entrance building and rearranging of fencing with salvaged wrought iron. The low bid was awarded to Riteway Earth Construction, at $144,973.

– A plan for the tennis facilities at Hammond Park was put forward by Antonio Conti, an engineer with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services Inc., experienced in such projects. After consulting with user groups, residents and the City of Minot, Conti’s design would see the addition of two courts and rearranging of two basketball courts to the opposite side of the park, as well as moving the compost area there. The estimate for the project would run around $1.7 million, and due to the nature of the concrete and finish used for tennis courts work would not be able to start until next spring, expected to be complete by August 2014. The plan will move ahead to the City for consideration.

The board approved a precursor to “Rock the Leaves,” a family-friendly benefit concert whose proceeds normally go to a person of need in the Minot community. The proposal was put forward by Vince Azzarello, a disc jockey with KHRT radio. The concert so far will feature four bands, taking place the evening of July 29, starting at 6 p.m.