Park gear sought for St. Paul’s site

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2000

Playground equipment, basketball courts and gazebos may be coming to the area around the former St.

Thursday, December 07, 2000

Playground equipment, basketball courts and gazebos may be coming to the area around the former St. Paul’s Lutheran Church off Main Street South.

Email newsletter signup

Dennis Maschka, director of Austin Parks and Recreation, told the city Park and Recreation Board and the council’s recreation committee on Wednesday he will ask the City Council to apply to the state Department of Natural Resources for a $250,000 outdoor recreation grant to provide the enhancements to the flood-prone area.

"I think it’s important to create a draw to the area, and the playground equipment will definitely provide that," Maschka said.

Maschka hopes the city will supply matching funds for the proposed renovations, some of which are already under way.

"All we can do is ask and hope for the best," Maschka said.

Numerous structural changes are being made to the former St. Paul’s church to make it usable as an open picnic pavilion. To date, the doors have been removed from the structure, the windows have been dropped to the floor and the sanctuary kitchen and parsonage have been removed.

Work yet to be completed includes construction of a wall beneath the former sacristy, the filling in of the basement and the installation of block to four feet above ground. All structural changes are required for flood compliance.

Currently there is one restroom on the premises, previously used by the on-site pastor. Maschka hopes to remedy this soon.

In other business Wednesday:

n An extension of the city bike trails will be made on the north side of East Side Lake. The new trail will cross Eighth Avenue NE twice, near 15th Street NE. The project is expected to begin in the spring.

"The bike trail will cross twice in order to take advantage of the wider tree area in that area," Third Ward City Councilwoman Gloria Nordin said at the committee meeting.

Committee members hope to add picnic tables to the area to help to prevent picnickers from using the J.C. Hormel Nature Center.

n A budget for the Friends of the Nature Center was passed, including $4,000 in internship funding. These internships will not be guaranteed for any year except 2001. Teacher scholarships of $500 for workshop attendance at nature center workshops also are included in the budget.

"Any environmental education we bring to the teachers goes back to the students," Friends’ member Merlene Stiles said.

Though Friends’ Director Larry Dolphin was challenged by board members on $200 allocated for the science fair awards, he responded that science studies fit into the organization’s mission statement specification of "scientific opportunities." The board approved the allocated money in the budget.

n The recently opened Youth Activity Center at the former Silver Bullet bar on Fourth Avenue NE was used last week for a jam session. Bands will play in the facility on Dec. 27 and 28.

Chemical dependency groups have asked to use the facility during times when it is not in use.

n Dennis Quednow of the Park and Recreation Board suggested that instead of using budget money to provide flowers for the poles around the downtown area, playground equipment should be purchased. The expected cost of equipment is $20,000. Quednow will draft a letter to the City Council and mayor outlining his proposal. If accepted, the board will ask local service clubs for money to purchase flowers.

n The Riverland Community College baseball complex has been tiled, leveled and will be seeded in the spring. The target for the completion of the first of three new diamonds is 2002.

n There are plans to tear down the grandstand, fencing and lights at Marcusen Park, but they will be on hold until the Riverland ballfields project is further along.

n A meeting to discuss the extension of the J.C. Hormel Nature Center is as yet unscheduled, but probably will take place either in late December or after the first of the year.