News St. Joseph — 17 July 2014
St. Joseph coalition wants splash pad

by Cori Hilsgen

news@thenewsleaders.com

A group of local citizens has formed a coalition to try to bring a splash pad to St. Joseph.

Two members of the St. Joseph Splash Pad Coalition are Matt Killam and Jen Warnert.

Both said they believe forming a coalition is beneficial to all. Killam is a member of the St. Joseph Lions Club, and Warnert is the president of the St. Joseph Jaycees.

Killam and his wife, Michelle, have three sons ages 7, 4 and 3. Warnert and her husband, Abe, do not have any children.

Killam has discussed the proposed project with Mayor Rick Schulz and has presented ideas to him.

Warnert said he believes a splash pad would be a good way to bring people together, keep people in the city and bring others to the city to patronize businesses.

“Right now there really are no options in St. Joe other than neighboring towns, and I would like to bring it here,” Warnert said.

The coalition is reaching out to contacts, has gathered information and has compared materials and costs of other splash pads.

The coalition members recently gave a presentation to the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce and were able to gain some new members.

“With a project of such magnitude,” Killam said, “we want the city involved.”

Killam said they have formed a plan and are following a progression but are not scheduling any time frames until they have received approval from the park board and the city.

The coalition has a meeting scheduled with the St. Joseph Park Board in August to seek approval to move forward with the project. If the park board approves the plan, the coalition hopes to meet with the St. Joseph City Council in September for its approval to move forward.

If the council approves the plan, the coalition would then begin fundraising for the pad.

“The last thing we want to do is raise money and then have to give it back,” Killam said.

He said they estimate the project will cost about $600,000 to complete. The coalition plans to raise $200,000 for the project and then ask the city to approve the use of the half-cent sales tax for the remaining $400,000.

“The city would be able to start the project as soon as we raise the funds if they agree with the $400,000 part,” Killam said.

Killam and Warnert said multiple splash pads are referenced in the city’s 2008 Master Park Plan’s long-term goals.

“We are just looking at one,” Warnert said. “We understand the financial aspect of this, but we feel this is going to be a project that will pay for itself.”

The splash pad they are proposing is comparable to those in St. Cloud and Waite Park. Two potential locations the coalition is considering for installing a pad are Centennial Park and Northland Park.

Currently, people involved with the coalition include Killam, Warnert, Geri Bechtold, Kathy Schmidt, Travis Moore, Clair Rodgers, Keith Schleper, Larry Hosch, Derek Lee and Mike Deutz.

photo by Cori Hilsgen
Jen Warnert and Matt Killam are part of the St. Joseph Splash Pad Coalition that hopes to bring a splash pad to St. Joseph.

photo by Cori Hilsgen
Jen Warnert and Matt Killam are part of the St. Joseph Splash Pad Coalition that hopes to bring a splash pad to St. Joseph.

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Cori Hilsgen
Cori Hilsgen

Cori Hilsgen is a contributing writer for the St. Joseph and Sartell Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a B.A. degree from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other peoples’ stories through the pages of “The Newsleaders”.

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