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Alexandria parks to be studied for improvements

At its meeting Monday night, the city council voted to hire HKGi to conduct a Parks and Trails Master Plan at a cost not to exceed $75,750.

CityPark 1325.jpg
Alexandria City Park in north Alexandria is among the parks that will be examined for possible improvements under a parks and trails master plan.
Echo Press file photo
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ALEXANDRIA — All 22 parks within the city of Alexandria will be closely studied soon — the amenities they offer, future improvements and the cost of potential upgrades.

At its meeting Monday night, the city council voted to hire HKGi to conduct a Parks and Trails Master Plan at a cost not to exceed $75,750. HKGi is a community planning, landscape architecture and urban design firm based in Minneapolis.

The plan will guide the city for both short and long-term investments in parks and trails. City Administrator Marty Schultz said the city has done individual park plans in the past but this will be the first time the city is doing a full-blown comprehensive plan for all the parks.

City staff interviewed five companies that presented proposals ranging from $43,831 to $160,068 before recommending HKGi. Staff determined that it had the best understanding of the project and knew the importance of engaging the public in the process.

In addition to doing the master plan, HKGi will also present up to four 3D models that are designed to bring the park concepts to life. The cost for that work will not exceed $14,000. Staff said the models will be very useful for parks such as Fillmore Park, City Park and Noonan Park.

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City staff recommended the cost of the study to be covered under the American Rescue Plan Act known as ARPA.

The master plan is expected to be completed next March when HKGi will submit a final draft to the park board and city council for review and approval.

The plan will include:

  • Updating an inventory of existing parks and giving a condition report for each park and its facilities.
  • Developing public participation and engagement during the process.
  • Reviewing community demographics as they relate to the city’s park system.
  • Identifying unmet current and future needs for parks, including picnic shelters, skatepark, playgrounds, athletic fields, restrooms, parking and park pathways.
  • Prioritizing park improvements and potential future parks locations and acquisitions.
  • Identifying the need for more staff, funding needs and strategies. The goal is to reduce long-term maintenance costs by identifying potential grant funding and partnership opportunities.
Read other Alexandria City Council stories

The city’s 22 parks range in size from 0.75 acres (Goose Park) to 74.14 acres (Oakwood Trails near 50th Avenue East). Combined, the parks take up 175 acres.

The city has already designated the parks into three categories:

  • Premier parks. Parks that are the most visited and used for events and larger gatherings. These parks are more centrally located in Alexandria. The city would like to see a priority placed on these parks during the planning process.
  • Neighborhood parks. Parks that are located in specific neighborhoods around the city. These parks will likely not need the full amenities that are part of the premier parks. These parks are scattered outside the area of the premier parks.
  • Other parks/open space. Parks that have a monument, wayside rest area, or parking for events. Some are not developed yet and looking for future options.

HKGi has worked with the city before. It was involved in planning Big Ole Central Park and Lake Connie Park in 2012 as well as the Douglas County Fairgrounds master plan.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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