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Paynesville Press - November 19, 2003

City improving newest park

By Michael Jacobson

Phil Johnson and Mayor Jeff Thompson The city of Paynesville intends to continue to improve its newest city park, planning $19,000 in improvements to the park, which includes the BMX track built this summer.

Phil Johnson (left) - getting his award at the BMX park he built for the city - recently was honored by the Payneville City Council for his volunteer efforts in working at the city's newest park.

The park is located on the south side of Paynesville, between Spruce Street and Highway 55, on land the city purchased for a new city well. Since the well occupies a small portion of the 4.6-acre property, the city has room for improvements.

The first part of the park was the BMX track, built this summer by volunteer Phil Johnson, who spent around 40 hours building the park, donating his time and equipment. The track cost the city less than $1,000 to build, said public works director Ron Mergen, and that was for materials (clay) and fuel.

Recently, the city council approved honoring Johnson with a plaque for his volunteer efforts.

city park map Johnson has already built his own dirt bike and snowmobile track at his residence because he thinks there aren't enough public places for people to ride. He said he is still young enough to remember not having anything to do and wanted to help build the BMX track to help the local youth.

Both Johnson and Mergen were pleased by the amount of use the BMX track got this summer after its completion. In fact, its use prompted more improvements at the park.

The only complaints the new park generated was the dust visitors stirred up on Service Road while driving to the park and the lack of water, which had kids grabbing drinks at the nearby businesses along Highway 55. (Complaints driven by too much usership were good ones to have, said Mergen.)

City staff already installed a water line to the park this fall, said Mergen, and there will be a drinking fountain available next summer. The city also plans to pave Service Road and build a six-foot biking trail to the park as part of the street improvement project next summer. Also, a five-stall parking lot will be paved for the park.

In addition, city staff have moved the city's outdoor skating rink, which was located at the Gazebo Park by the elementary school last year, to this new park this winter. If this rink is well-used, the city will consider making it more permanent in the future, said Mergen.

Also in the future plans is a dog park, which would be a large fenced area where city residents could let their dogs run free and train them, since city ordinance requires pets to be on a leash otherwise.

In all, the current improvements to the park (water and sewer lines, drinking fountain, bike trail, and paved parking lot) are expected to cost $19,000. Of that, the city has received a grant from CenterPoint Energy Minnegasco for $2,500. The remainder will come from the city's capital improvement fund for parks, which has a balance of $86,000.

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