The City of Peterson may be looking at two new family-oriented opportunities within its borders. At the September 8 council meeting, Boy Scout Troop 53 leader Tom Butterfield and scout Gibson Darr were present to discuss Darr’s proposal for a Gaga ball pit in the city’s campground park.
“Gibson has worked his way through Boy Scouts and wants to earn Eagle Scout,” explained Butterfield. “It’s all a part of it; another step forward.”
In order to earn the designation, a scout must create a proposal for a community or non-profit project in which they do all the fundraising and installation. Before the project can move forward, they must secure the approval of both the community or non-profit and the scouting organization. The approval, in this case, will come from Gamehaven Council, out of Rochester. If approval is granted, Darr would begin fundraising from area businesses, although individual donations are appreciated. During construction, leadership is a key part of things and Darr must lead and teach the other troop members. In this case, the goal for installation would be spring 2022.
Darr presented his project noting it would greatly benefit the people of the community are surrounding areas. He was first introduced to the game at a scouting event that saw youth playing for hours. The projected size of the Gaga ball pit, which is a flat, hexagonal, fenced court, is 20 by 20 feet. According to Darr, the aim is to hit the ball with an open hand and strike an opponent from the knee down, forcing an out.
“I like it,” said Councilor Dave Colbenson. “It’s something new; something different.”
“I have eight more boys looking at getting their Eagle Scout in the next few years, so if you need a project, let us know,” added Butterfield.
Mayor Tim Hallum and Councilor Chris Stenzel suggested the pit could be placed near the recently renovated playground rather than the open former football field to keep play centralized.
Councilor Gail Boyum had some hesitation, over the location only, noting that the Friends of Peterson organization has some projects in mind for the location. “Friends of Peterson are thinking about what could fit over there, too. This could complement it.”
“It’ll fit more perfectly if we keep it localized to one area,” noted Hallum.
Later, Boyum laid out one of the projects that Friends of Peterson is suggesting: a splash pad.
“Splash pads have become really big, exciting things,” she stated. The group is envisioning a 15 to 20-foot splash area, with an additional five feet outside for an adult to supervise. The city would have control of when the water is activated, noting it can be during certain hours, weekends only, or some other time frame. The pad can be simple or have a number of interactive variety of things and more can be added. One suggestion by Boyum was a gnome in the center. Options to be determined include the basic budget, features, and system type. A bid from the company that did the city’s playground was in the $10,000-15,000 range and all plumbing is additional. “We would really like to do this,” added Boyum.
Public Works Director Rick Lee noted that the only sanitary sewer available for used water is the campground sewer, so a system with a tank to recycle the water would be needed. He further noted that it can’t be constantly be pulling water, as there’s not enough to source it without the campground losing water pressure. Councilor Tracy Seelbinder added that some kind of water treatment would also be needed to keep the area sanitary. Stenzel and Hallum suggested that the area between the two road branches, leading to the campground spots and the concession and parking area, be expanded to allow for safety, continued access by large campers to the area, and less congestion overall.
Hallum noted he’d seen splash pads in other municipalities, noting some were fenced and gated. “I like the idea and it’s something to look towards,” he added. A committee for park planning will likely be formed. Darr’s proposal was unanimously approved.
The council also discussed a recent inquiry by an individual about leasing out the campground. City Clerk Chris Grindland described the nine-site area as a low-maintenance campground. “It doesn’t take much in funds to keep it operational,” he added. This year, the campground has netted the city $13,984 with roughly 45 days left to go in the season. Last year, it brought in $16,000.
“A lease starting point would be what we make on it,” noted Hallum, who added the individual had expressed interest in adding tent camping to the park. It was clarified that in order to function as a leased campground the individual would need to bring in showers, for tent camping, pay utilities and take care of mowing the grounds. In order to determine utility usage for the nine camper spots, meters would need to be installed. “I wouldn’t even know where to start on a lease. I think it’s going to be a hard thing to even think about,” added Hallum.
After some discussion, the consensus was to keep the area as a city campground, rather than lease it. “Unless they want to throw a bunch of money at us. Then, we’ll talk,” quipped Stenzel.
In other news, the council is looking at when to make equipment upgrades. Currently, the city has a truck and tractor, both purchased five years ago, and a zero-turn mower currently on its second season. “What kind of turnaround should we look at on these two pieces of equipment?” asked Hallum. The truck is currently scheduled for a 10-year rotation, being traded in or sold in the next five years. “We would have to look at equipment pricing, plus we’d still have trade value. We could look at upgrading or lease options. I’m looking for feedback on whether or not we should look at getting numbers before we start throwing around budget numbers.”
Grindland noted the city will work through known expenses utilizing the general fund and any remaining dollars will be put towards equipment. It was suggested the city seek numbers sooner rather than later. Lee will attain quotes from Hammel and St. Joseph Equipment, as well as some possible others.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Wednesday, October 13, at 6 p.m., at city hall. It is open to the public.