Public's preference for new Pilgrim Point Park on Lake Ida: Keep it simple

Two options for developing the park have been drawn up for the Douglas County Board, based on public input.

PilgrimPt 0114.jpg
Douglas County Parks Superintendent Brad Bonk speaks with attendees at an open house for the county park being built on a portion of Pilgrim Point. The open house took place Wednesday afternoon, April 28, at Douglas County Public Works. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

Keep it simple and keep it green. That was the main theme Brad Bonk took away from the more than 530 people who filled out a survey for what they wanted to see at Pilgrim Point Park on Lake Ida.

Bonk, Douglas County Parks Superintendent, along with Jillian Reiner, project landscape architect with Hagstrom Engineering, the consulting firm working on Pilgrim Point, were on hand Wednesday, April 28, at an open house for the park.

Members of the public were invited to see two concept drawings for the future park and offer further comments. For those who would still like to provide input, they can do so through a virtual platform. A website is now available, .

Bonk said so far, the feedback the county has received for the park has been overwhelmingly positive. Reiner agreed, noting that during the open house people were receptive to the two options.

“They like that it’s minimal,” she said of the designs for the park.


Although, she added, there were some people in the survey who wanted to see a few more elements, such as a restaurant or options for food trucks.

A conceptual drawing for Pilgrim Point County Park Option A shows that the park would include two swimming beaches, a one-way hiking/biking trail, picnic shelter, large natural playground, restrooms, kids sandbox and a turnaround entrance with one main parking area that would accommodate 75 vehicles. (Drawing courtesy of Hagstrom Engineering)

A conceptual drawing for Pilgrim Point County Park Option B shows that the park would include two swimming beaches, a hiking/biking loop trail, picnic shelter, two small playgrounds, restrooms, three outdoor firepits, sand volleyball court and two parking areas. (Drawing courtesy of Hagstrom Engineering)

After the open house, the county and the engineering firm will review the comments and finalize a master plan for the park. Reiner said a new plan will be created using elements from both options based on the feedback from the public.

That plan is set to be proposed to the building committee at the end of May. The master plan will then be presented to the county board for adoption at the June 15 regular board meeting.

In June, the conditional use permit will be applied for so that the park can be created. The plan is to start working on the park in July. The park and the swimming beach are expected to open in 2022.



The dotted line was signed last November for the sale of the county’s portion of Pilgrim Point on Lake Ida, which is 8.2 acres. Douglas County purchased the property for $2 million with half of that money – $1 million – coming in the form of a cash donation from Gene Hauer, who lives in the Twin Cities metro area. Hauer’s family, including his daughter and son-in-law, Jill and Mark Swanson who live on Lake Ida, owns Pilgrim Point Shores LLC.

Pilgrim Point Shores purchased the rest of the Pilgrim Point land and is the group that will be developing the land. In September 2020, the commissioners signed a joint purchase agreement with Pilgrim Point Shores. The group was going to donate 4 acres of the land they purchased, but decided later that Hauer would donate the $1 million so that the county could just purchase the land outright.

090420.N.AEP.PilgrimPoint_Detail (1).jpg
This map shows the location of the land at Pilgrim Point that Douglas County purchased and will be turning into a county park. (Forum Design Center)

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.
What To Read Next
Get Local