Shaping the future of county parks, trailsPerhaps it’s something you’ve never considered: Do you wish there were more county parks in Douglas County? What are your thoughts on the county’s trail system? Are more picnic shelters on your county park wish list? Do you think there should be more restroom facilities available at the parks?
By: Amy Chaffins, Alexandria Echo Press
Perhaps it’s something you’ve never considered: Do you wish there were more county parks in Douglas County?
What are your thoughts on the county’s trail system?
Are more picnic shelters on your county park wish list?
Do you think there should be more restroom facilities available at the parks?
Community input and ideas will be critical to the development of the Douglas County Park and Trail Plan. Here’s your opportunity to have your say and share your ideas.
A community open house will be held Tuesday, January 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Douglas County Public Works Center to gather ideas for the future of the county’s parks.
“We would like to hear from the community; we basically want to pick their brains,” said Jessica Peterson, coordinator of Active Living Douglas County. “We want to know their thoughts and ideas on the park and trail system. Where are we lacking? What is their vision for the long term?”
Al Lieffort, Douglas County Parks superintendent, added, “We need people to help us. Tell us what you think about parks.”
The ideas and input from the community will be rolled into creating the Douglas County Park and Trail Plan – a blueprint for the county’s parks, open spaces, trails and bikeways over the next 25 years.
“We’re trying to take a look at: What do we have? What do people wish we had? And how do we make these things come together? That’s really what we’re trying to do,” Lieffort said.
Urban planning consultants will facilitate the open house, gather input and create the document.
The plan will cost $35,000 to develop; $20,000 will come from a grant funded by the state’s tobacco settlement funds, and $15,000 from the county parks’ budget.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT OPEN HOUSE
Those attending the open house can expect a relaxed atmosphere where all ideas are welcome, Peterson said.
First, an overview of how Douglas County fits into the region will be provided. Then, a short program on what county parks are in most places. And finally, during an informal work session, participants will be asked to share their ideas for parks.
There’s also an online survey on www.co.douglas.mn.us that residents are asked to take.
A few sessions will also be held with people in the community who have a focused interest in local parks and trails, like biking groups, Runestone Park Foundation members and others. Then, this summer, a second open house will be hosted.
“We are going to run this through the summer because we want the summer residents to have a chance to interact with us too,” Lieffort said.
The parks and trails plan should be in-hand sometime in September.
“Part of the plan process will be the community helping us figure out how we get to the park system of our dreams,” Peterson said.
When asked about their vision for Douglas County Parks, Peterson said she thinks of her children using the parks in the future and Lieffort said more access to lakes would be optimal.
Peterson said, “I grew up at the beach – L’Homme Dieu Beach. Personally, because [the parks] have meaning to me, I’d like my own kids to have those same opportunities. I think of how they could benefit from the plan as they grow up.”
Lieffort said, “This is the Alexandria lakes area and park-like access to the public waters around here is very limited. I wish we had more spots like Chippewa Park. It’s a beautiful piece of land with lakes on both sides. It’s what people expect when they come to Alexandria and there is precious little of that available here.
“I’d like to get Curt Felt Park done, Lieffort added. “That’s number one on my wish list. With a horseshoe sports complex, it will be really nice for the area.”