Lake Elmo Parks Commission to double spending on parks and trails

A rock climbing play apparatus along with a turtle and frogs are newer additions to Pebble Park. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
A rock climbing play apparatus along with a turtle and frogs are newer additions to Pebble Park. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Lake Elmo Parks have new signage, including Pebble Park. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Lake Elmo Parks have new signage, including Pebble Park. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
A zipkrooz is another newer feature at Pebble Park. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
A zipkrooz is another newer feature at Pebble Park. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

As development picks up in Lake Elmo, so do the parkland dedication fees collected from developers of those projects. The city currently has nearly $1 million of those funds in its coffers that can only be used on parks and trails.

In a presentation to the city council earlier this month, parks commission chair, Shane Weis, said the commissioners recommended spending nearly $237,000 on parks this year, and they plan to more than double that amount next year to $530,000.

2014 accomplishments

Weis told the council the parks commission sent out a community survey at the end of last year, which aided the commission in developing a scope of work based on community analysis. He said the survey’s results showed community members’ preference for making park upgrades to existing parkland and creating signage at each park.  New signs were placed in all 17-city parks this year.

Among other 2014 achievements, the commission conducted a comprehensive park audit, began planning for the Lake Elmo Regional Trail, created a Sunfish Lake Task Force, developed a plan for Sanctuary Park and acquired new parkland through a joint powers agreement with the Stillwater School District in the city’s southeast quadrant.

New playground equipment was also installed in Pebble Park, along with a new gate at Sunfish Lake Park and tree planting was completed at the Jamaca Landfill site.

2015 work will focus on trails, upgrades

Weis said the commission had its annual retreat last month and talked park priorities for 2015. He said the main consensus among commission members was to focus on trails. He said the commission would work to develop a comprehensive trail plan, which, along with an updated comprehensive park plan, would aid the planning commission when new development proposals are being considered.

Weis said the commission wants to make Lake Elmo parks more alluring to residents and would work to ensure improvements to Tablyn, Pebble, Sanctuary and other parks would continue in 2015.

“A big deal for us is getting as many people in our parks as we can [and] we think the biggest issue is maintenance in our parks. We are really focused on the parks we have,” he told the council.

In 2015, the parks commission will also explore opportunities for downtown park space, including the possibility of a ball field destination park. Additionally, parks commissioners plan to develop a master plan for Reid Park and determine the best location for a community ice rink, among other goals.

Council member Mike Reeves commended Weis and the rest of the parks commission for their continued hard work.

“It’s really good work, and I’m excited about the future with what you will be able to contribute to Lake Elmo. Great job.”

Weis returned the favor on behalf of the parks commission, thanking Reeves for serving as its city-council liaison.

“It’s been a great asset for the park commission,” he said.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at   jnielsen@lillienews.com  or 651-748-7822.

 

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