by Frank Lee
A proposal to build a new shelter for Millstream Park faced some objection at a recent St. Joseph City Council meeting as to whether it should be a priority of the St. Joseph Park Board.
The council authorized the bidding of the project and use of sales tax for the funding at its March 6 meeting despite opposition from a single councilmember, Bob Loso. (Councilmember Troy Goracke was absent from the meeting.)
“I think the building is overkill myself, personally,” Loso told the council before voting against the project.
The park board approved the building plans for the new shelter. The plans were forwarded to R.A. Morton Construction Managers of St. Cloud to review and estimate a construction cost, which includes a 10 percent contingency, according to city officials.
The council had the chance to bid the heating/air-conditioning as an alternate if they desired, and they also had the option before the meeting’s conclusion to allow R.A. Morton to prepare the bid documents and manage the project. It would cost around $500,000 or so to build the shelter.
“In the park board’s priorities, this is what they want to do?” Councilmember Dale Wick asked Matt Killam, who is a member of the St. Joseph Park Board. “It’s going to take a good chunk of the park board’s sales tax, so is this their project for the next five years?”
Building construction was estimated to be about $405,000, tables/chairs at $20,000, outside furniture at $2,000, demolition at $4,000, paving driveway/parking at $15,000, construction management at $30,000, surveillance at $5,000 and bid documents at $10,000.
“We listed all the other costs that will mostly likely be incurred – furniture, fixtures and things like that,” City Administrator Judy Weyrens explained at the meeting.
The park board spent more than a year evaluating Millstream Park, which is located north of Hwy. 75 and east of Hwy. 3 on the northwestern edge of St. Joseph’s city limits, and it reviewed the city’s needs and wants, according to the board’s members.
“This is our top priority,” Killam told Wick on behalf of the park board before the council voted to authorize the bidding of the Millstream Park shelter project. “This is a 50-year-old building.”
Shelter issues include pavers tipped toward the building so water does not drain properly; the fireplace does not vent properly, resulting in air quality issues; easy access into the building by rodents; cracks in the exterior blocks; and restrooms are not handicapped-accessible.
“Basically, we believe the current shelter has outlived its useful life, and a replacement is necessary,” John Anderson, a member of the park board, had told the city council at its Aug. 22 meeting in which the park board presented a budget request to the council.
“Some of the uses for that facility would be Nordic skiing, snow shoeing, Water Fest, Scout meetings, club meetings, special events, Winterfest, an Ice Bowl Disc Tournament and rental for family gatherings. … The park board believes if we build it, they will come.”
Highlights of a proposed new shelter at Millstream Park include a large shelter to use year-round, kitchen and storage areas, large sitting area with overhang, restroom facilities and the ability to use some areas while locking off others.
“I don’t think you need a $600,000 park shelter down there,” Loso said. “I think you either look at some alternative building you can build, something a lot cheaper than that. It’s a lot of money for just a five-, six-months-out-of-the-year building. Also, there are a lot of other things that have been thrown on the back burner throughout the years.”
Among other park-board projects that have been discussed for sales-tax funding include an aquatics center, with an estimated cost of $6.5 million, repurposing Colts Academy next to the new St. Joseph Government Center and developing a 95-acre East Park near the Sauk River.
“There are a lot of projects that have been slated that should be done first,” Loso said. “This (park shelter) is something that just came up within the last year or two.”