March 5, 2009. A few miles north of the St. Cloud Country Club lies an underdeveloped recreational park. The park, better known as Riverside Park, stretches parallel to the Mississippi river and includes outdoor activities such as swimming, tennis, volleyball, horseshoes and disc golf. Even with these numerous amenities, the park radiates dullness and visitors are left with the feeling you only receive when visiting an undistinguished landmark.
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I decided to attend a city council meeting to see what future developments were being planned for the park. The meeting was held in a city office building in the heart of downtown St. Cloud. Upon entering the glassed double doors, I noticed an inscription in Latin on the marble floor which may have translated to “please wipe your feet,” but I assumed it to be a statement of unity or some sort. I was overwhelmed with the numerous politicians and office workers that were scampering amongst each other in suite and tie. If your mentality wasn’t already locked in at “business ready,” it was now.
When entering the meeting room, a speaker was introducing the purpose of the meeting. The park and recreational advisory board was holding the meeting to reveal a new council agenda item entitled Riverside Regional Park Greenhouse Project. The project goal was to, “support the development, construction and maintenance of regional and community-wide recreational sites,” the speaker stated and that our necessary action was to approve or reject individual phases of the plan.
Being this my first city council meeting, I decided to sit back and learn the etiquette to avoid making myself look like a fool. One of the speakers from the board mentioned a plan to install security fencing around the park. The room seemed quite optimistic about the fencing to improve the overall park quality. Sarcastically I wanted to add “now we can keep those horseshoe thieves out,” but I held to my commitment of just observing.
It seemed as if the primary concern was to jump start the makeover of Riverside Park and complete the overall project in individual phases. The members in the room were throwing ideas around faster than I could write down. It is clear that this city is in desperate need of a revamped park structure.
Whether the project will succeed in turning Riverside Park into a city hot spot will only be decided with time. The effect of the Greenhouse Project will likely be felt in phases. As each phase gets accepted for funding, the park will gain a new and improved look. With the national and state economies faltering, one must wonder how much funding recreational parks are really going to receive.
For more information regarding St. Cloud city council meetings and agendas visit the official website (http://ci.stcloud.mn.us/CityCouncil/Default.aspx).
_A resident of St. Cloud, Tim Erickson is enrolled at Anoka Ramsey Community College_