by Dennis Dalman
Two planned park projects – one at Champion Field, the other at Val Smith Park – received updates at the last Sartell City Council meeting.
Construction of a park shelter with bathrooms at Val Smith Park on Sartell’s east side is expected to begin sometime in the first half of August. The roof-covered facility will be built just north of the existing park shelter, which will be demolished once the new one is up and operating.
The new shelter will include the following: male and female bathrooms, a large kitchen with stainless-steel counters and two large open serving areas to the outside of the structure, a concrete picnic slab with picnic tables on it and a roof (possibly metal, copper-colored like the one at city hall). The building was meticulously designed to discourage any sort of vandalism: concrete-block construction with burnished blocks on the outside for aesthetic purposes. The roof will cover the main building but will extend over the concrete-slab picnic area for shelter from rain.
The building, which will be available for renting, is designed so it can be expanded if that need arises in the future.
The other park development is a concessions stand-bathroom facility in Champion Field at Northside Park. For years, residents and baseball fans and players have rued the lack of indoor bathroom facilities at Champion, and now, at long last, one is about to be built. The cost, up to $130,000, will be paid for by the city’s regional half-cent sales-tax fund. Pete Johnson, member of the Sartell Youth Baseball Association Board, outlined the project for the city council. He and others, with help from a volunteer draftsman, have scaled back the original plans for the facility made several years ago. For example, they decided to go with a one-story, rather than two-story, structure.
The 36-x-24-foot building will be constructed beyond the first-base dugout near some bleachers on the northeast area just beyond the playing field. It will be located about 10 feet above the baseball diamond, giving those in the press box a good view of the action. There will be two wide serving windows to the concession stand and a roof overhang on the east end.
The structure itself will be of concrete blocks with a rock-faced outside finish.
The City of Sartell will bear the entire cost of the structure via its sales-tax revenues, although the baseball association will marshal volunteers to do the clean-up work. In recent years, the association and many volunteers have raised money and pitched in hundreds of hours of time to give Champion Field a long-overdue makeover.
Johnson said the plan for the structure will be tweaked a bit more, with cost savings in mind, before the association advertises for bids. The council gave the association permission to proceed with seeking bids that will have to be approved by the city council in the near future.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.