Task force park plans take shapeResidents of all ages are invited to attend a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, in the commons area of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to talk about specific park plans and priorities for the city of Cloquet. Folks are also encouraged to take the new Park and Trail Priorities survey online at www.ci.cloquet.mn.us or contact Caleb Peterson.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
After nine months of meetings and community input, the Parks Master Plan Task Force has a number of specific plans in place for parks and trails in Cloquet.
There’s some bold thinking in those plans. At Athletic Park on 14th Street, for example, a draft plan shows no baseball field. Instead there is a multiuse field in the center of the park, with a band shell in one corner, a basketball half court, the existing playground, a restroom pavilion and a skate park/special use area.
“It goes back to the neighborhood park concept and having a multiuse facility,” explained Caleb Peterson, assistant city engineer who works with the Parks Board and the task force. “Now with the [high school’s] baseball field taking up so much space, it doesn’t really serve that purpose. But talking with the coaches and Braun Park [officials], they’re very much in favor of centralizing locations and moving the high school down to Braun Park. We’d keep the lights at Athletic, though, and the field could be used for anything.”
Not shown on the plan for Athletic Park is an ice skating rink.
Peterson said he didn’t know if that was part of the plan or not, noting the consultants working with the task force and the city haven’t designated winter versus summer use.
“Ice rinks are a question we’ll have to answer and figure out if they can stay in the current plans,” he said. “That’s one of the points of having a community meeting: to present these plans and start taking feedback.”
Residents of all ages are invited to attend a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, in the commons area of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to talk about the specific park plans and priorities. It will be the third community-wide meeting; the first attracted close to 30 residents while only a handful turned up for the second.
“Anyone, of any age, who’s passionate about the parks system is more than welcome to come and participate,” he said, stressing that the various drawings are simply planning documents and subject to change. “The whole process was designed with the idea that we want community input and we want people to get involved now, rather that when the construction plans are on the table.”
The group has not completed a plan for every park in the city, Peterson said, but there are ideas outlined for each of the parks that would qualify for funds from the recently passed local option sales tax, as well as any parks that would see larger scale change.
The neighborhood park theme makes repeated appearances.
Plans for Hilltop Park – currently the soccer epicenter of Cloquet with three fields and substantial parking – show an additional multiuse practice field/rink north of the park (behind the 14th Street Apartment complex). North of that plans show a 9-hole disc golf course, more parking and a restroom pavilion. A smaller parking lot at the eastern end of the park would also serve as a basketball court and the existing, fairly old, playground would be renovated.
Peterson said the consultants at LHB suggested the disc golf course.
“I was surprised, but a disc golf course wouldn’t limit development of more fields in the future and it fits in nicely with the natural features there,” Peterson said. “It’s also not really expensive to develop.”
Veterans Park, at the intersection of Highway 33 and Cloquet Avenue, would retain a large multiuse field but gain a hillside amphitheater and lots of landscaping, in addition to the existing picnic pavilion, flag plaza and veterans’ garden.
Plans for the entire Pine Valley complex – with two hockey shelters, ski jumps and cross country ski/nature trails – propose a new route from Pine Valley to the Washington Street intersection, a reconfigured parking lot by the ice rinks, paved and expanded parking by the ski area, a zip line, mountain bike trails, an enhanced chalet and renovated ski jumps. The senior center and “The Barn” ice rink would also be renovated.
Also falling in the category of “big” changes is the riverfront area in downtown Cloquet. Plans for that area show a river trail loop (including a pedestrian bridge across the river and boardwalk through wetlands at the eastern end of the loop, among other things).
Peterson said those who attend the meeting will talk about the individual plans for the parks as well as priorities.
“Is it best to focus on an individual park and take it from start to finish or make little improvements in various parks?” Peterson said. “We have to figure out how we’d go about making the improvements, too.”
This will be the last parks planning meeting until after the holidays, Peterson said.
Those who can’t make the community meeting are invited to fill out a new survey linked to the city’s website at www.ci.cloquet.mn.us. This is a different survey than the one the city posted originally.
Residents without internet access can contact Caleb Peterson at City Hall at 218-879-6758 for a paper copy of the survey.
Community Meeting Three: Refining the Plans
Date: Thursday, Nov. 29
Time: 6-8:30 p.m.
Place: Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Commons
Take the new Park and Trail Priorities survey online at www.ci.cloquet.mn.us or contact Caleb Peterson.