Fundraising has begun on a $1.2 million upgrade
By Robert Williams
The Vergas Park Board Committee held its Loon Art for the Park fundraiser for future Long Lake Park Renovations on Monday, Aug. 7, at the Event Center.
There were loon baskets designed by local businesses that were up for a silent auction, along with a free will donation meal and a cash bar. The proceeds are the start of fundraising efforts to complete a $1.2 million renovation of the park.
The event was also held to get direct feedback from residents on the initial design changes.
The Park Board has been meeting over the past 18 months with North Dakota State University landscape architect Matthew Kirkwood and Bison students helped create 16 different plans to improve the city park.
“They helped us get a start and the park board had some priorities from those plans,” said Park Board Chair Sherri Hanson.
The renovation is a two to three-year plan pending available funding and the changes come as part of the feedback city officials heard from residents when completing its comprehensive plan in 2022.
“It’s part of the comprehensive plan and right now there’s just a lot of money available through the state,” said Hanson. “It’s also part of a safety plan.”
Part of the renovation will install an exit on the south end of the park to allow for one-way traffic, rather than the current model where visitors must turn around utilizing only one exit. The route is contingent on final engineering plans.
The other change that will increase safety is the removal of the lower end parking lot and an expansion of the sandy beach area.
“This will be all beach; there will be no parking down there,” Hanson said.
Another community dock is in the future and the area around the loon statue will be turned into more of a plaza.
“It will really highlight the loon,” Hanson said.
Parking plans are to have it be diagonal throughout the park but there are two separate plans still in flux.
One of the first projects is to address the public restroom area, something Hanson noted was a priority.
There are numerous other upgrades in the planning and the project will likely be completed in stages once a final draft is approved, which will be utilized to apply for state grants.