Photo by Robert Williams
NDSU landscape architect Matthew Kirkwood has submitted 16 different plans for future improvements at the city park. The park committee is in the process of narrowing down the options for a near-future decision and presentation to the city council.

By Robert Williams


Changes to the city park and some street parking formats were discussed at the Vergas City Council meeting Tuesday, April 12.

Sherri Hanson reviewed the latest Park board committee activities, including a meeting with North Dakota State University landscape architect Matthew Kirkwood on choosing one of 16 plans to improve the city park.

“It’s really exciting and there are some great ideas,” Hanson said. “It’s been kind of fun to see some of the outside-of-the-box things they’ve come up with.”

Another issue raised was what, if anything, the park should be called.

“We’ve really never named it,” said Hanson.

The committee is going to discuss the submitted plans and make a decision at the upcoming April 28 park board meeting. Final plans will be brought to the council in the coming weeks.

Boardwalk snowmobile issues

The park’s boardwalk has been damaged over the winter by snowmobiles. 

The park board has approached the company that built the boardwalk about this and other issues. The boardwalk is under a 30-year warranty, although the damage is likely not covered.

The real issue is keeping snowmobilers off the boardwalk in the future with the use of barriers and providing more information to sled enthusiasts.

“We know for next year to try to get people educated, talking to the snowmobile clubs and putting the barriers up,” Hanson said.

Diagonal parking approved for First Ave.

The county has approved diagonal parking on North First Avenue, but in the agreement the county wants the council to paint or stripe twice per year.

“We felt that was excessive,” said council member Bruce Albright. 

Albright summed up the differing opinion was to paint it when needed rather than waste money doing so if not necessary. The street committee has not committed to signing the agreement and is looking for a change of language regarding marking the parking spaces.

Downtown drainage problem nearing a solution

The street committee continued conversations from a special meeting in March regarding a storm drain issue behind Altona Square and the liquor store.

An investigation of the problem revealed three possible solutions, a valley drain in the alley, a valley drain and storm sewer, or a valley drain on the south side of the liquor store draining east with estimated costs of $5,000, $14,000, and $4,000, respectively.

The slope of the road has created issues on placement of the drain. Altona Square also sits one foot above the liquor store, which creates problems with the slope.

Discussions were had with the building owners on possibly removing asphalt and redoing the area. Altona Square has indicated that asphalt work on that project is planned for mid-May. 

Engineer Emily Schauer, of KLJ Engineering, answered questions from the council. 

Any recommendations were held until the next meeting.

Lawrence Lake grant request approved

The park board approved a matching redevelopment grant request to apply for $9,800 by JRMH Holdings, LLC, for two lots on Lawrence Lake.

The monies are made available through the Otter Tail County Community Development Agency’s Community Growth Partnership Grant program.

According to city clerk/treasurer Julie Lammers, the county recently restructured the grant to allow for $50,000 per city with no project to use more than $25,000.

The grant is to complete the first phase of demolition and clean-up of standing structures that are past their useful life on the lots, prior to development of up to four single family homes on two parcels and 29 acres of land. 

The cleanup is necessary to appease lending institutions before development funding is secured, according to the grant request.

If the project remains on schedule, utilities and ground work could begin as early as this summer, or fall.

The properties are in the city limits of Vergas with a potential for four residential single family lots ranging in size from three to five acres.

JRMH has committed $6,000 to the project.

Bar operations turned over at Event Center

The council and the Vergas Lions Club are in negotiations regarding the bar operations and equipment at the event center, pending an agreement on a lease to be drawn up for the remainder of the year by the city attorney.

The Lions Club announced it will discontinue bar services at the event center in March. Spanky’s Stone Hearth will be taking over future operations.

The Event Center committee announced the center will be closed for indoor walking as of Thursday, April 28.

An advertising spot is open on the Event Center sign after the Vergas Lions did not renew.