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Shane Mercer, Published September 10 2007

Parks plan accepted

More than $750,000 of improvements to Moorhead regional parks are recommended in the Regional Park Framework Plan accepted by city council members last week.

Recommended improvements to M.B. Johnson Park in North Moorhead make up the biggest portion of those costs at an estimated $305,700. Of that total, $132,000 would go toward new playground equipment. The plan also recommends replacement of a picnic shelter at the park at an estimated cost of $58,000.

In addition to those improvements, the framework recommends:

- $172,000 of improvements to Viking Ship Park, W.H. Davy Park, Memorial Park and Riverfront Park. These include construction of a roof over the horseshoe pits at a cost of $95,000.

- $213,500 of improvements to Woodlawn Park, with $62,500 of that total is the construction of a picnic shelter.

- $62,500 of improvements to Gooseberry Mound Park, with an estimated $45,000 going to improve the bicycle and pedestrian bridge.

Cindy Gray, an associate with SRF, said the dollar figures in the study are preliminary estimates and not based on actual bids.

Needed improvements to Centennial were not included in the list of high-priority work because the city is already addressing needs at that park, the study said.

The plan, which was developed by Minneapolis-based SRF Consulting Group, is designed to identify what improvements need to be made to existing regional city parks and to prioritize those needs, said Holly Heitkamp, Moorhead Recreation division manager.

Heitkamp said the study will serve to guide the Park Board in its recommendations for park improvements to the City Council as well as the council’s decisions regarding park improvements.

“It laid out park needs in an organized fashion for policymakers to assist (them) in decision-making and planning,” Heitkamp said.

Gray said that, with the plan, city officials were attempting to be “equitable across the community” and not invest all their resources into new parks such as Southside Regional Park and Horizon Shores Park.

Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said he was “a little surprised” by the cost of the recommended improvements, but the city could reduce the price tag on some of the work by staff or volunteers.

The study did not address the condition and needs of neighborhood parks, such as Alm Park, Northeast Park and Romkey Park. Neighborhood parks are smaller and primarily serve residents who live in the immediate area of the park.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734