Input still wanted on Alexandria park system

The city has an interactive link with concept drawings that the public can comment on.

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Nicole Mace, a member of the Alexandria City Council, and her son, Brandon, attend a parks open house at City Hall on Thursday, Feb. 9.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — The chamber of the Alexandria City Council was bustling with activity recently when an open house for Alexandria parks was held, which made Bill Thoennes very happy.

Thoennes, the director of parks and facilities for the city of Alexandria, said in an email to the newspaper, “I was ecstatic about the turnout and the enthusiasm about the draft concept drawings. The city council chamber was full of curious people who were looking at the draft conceptual drawings.”

At the meeting, which took place Thursday, Feb. 9, there were drawings for all 22 of the parks in the city. The drawings, said Thoennes, evolved from public input and feedback from two surveys and another open house that took place last fall.

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At a parks open house Thursday, Feb. 9, attendees could put sticky notes on the conceptual drawings with their comments.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

He stressed how important input from the public was and continues to be.

“Once the final plan is completed in late March/early April, it will be a road map for the Alexandria Park Board and the City Council for park improvements for the next five, 10, 15, 20 years down the road,” said Thoennes.


The city has partnered with Hoisington Koegler Group Inc. out of Minneapolis to do the planning process for the Parks Master Plan, which is currently being worked on.

Thoennes said that Kevin Clarke and Hannah Schmitz from HKGI have been awesome to work with throughout the process and have produced some great drafts so far.

Bill Thoennes

During the Feb. 9 open house, Thoennes said it was so great to talk with so many energetic people, which will help the city and the board to share the park system.

“There were lots of great comments on how we are incorporating lots of paths and trails within the parks and making them connect to other trails that are already in place like the Central Lake Trail,” he said. “We heard positives about making sure play equipment is universal and including more inclusive play areas for people with physical challenges. There was just a lot of excitement about what the parks could be like in the future.”

The city is working on putting together a Parks Master Plan that will serve the city for up to 20 years.

Jess Ptacek attended the meeting with her brother, Travis Stewart, and his girlfriend, Sam Evenson.

“We were there promoting the idea for a future disc golf course in Alexandria. We would love to see the community rally behind this idea,” said Ptacek, who is the programs and events coordinator at the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. “Disc golf has a huge following and would bring additional tourism to our area and serve those in our community who love the sport.”

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Jess Ptacek, right, along with her brother, Travis Stewart, behind her, and his girlfriend, Sam Evenson, to the left of her, look at concept drawings of Alexandria parks. They would like to see disc golf incorporated into the park system.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Thoennes said if people could not attend the open house, there is still an opportunity for them to provide feedback and to give their opinions on the concept drawings. There is an interactive link that people can go to and comment on for all 22 parks. They will also be able to see other peoples’ comments.

The map link is and the project website is . It's also on the front page of the city's website, . Click on "City of Alexandria Parks Concept Review."


The interactive links will be open until the end of February. At that time, the HKGi staff will take all of the feedback and incorporate it into the final draft plans. They will also be doing some programming pieces and including some cost estimates, said Thoennes.

The park board will review and then make “final tweaks” to the plan before presenting it to the city council, he added.

Park board members are Carol Wenner, Eric Karlstad, Jeremy Pederson, Jeremy Vinar, Sheri Platto, Jackie Peters and the city council representative is Andrew Weiner.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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