By Dan Solovitz
Earlier this spring, the City of Cottage Grove began gathering information through a Recreation Survey regarding what residents want to see in the city’s current and future public recreation planning options.
Dubbed “Reimagine Recreation,” the survey simply asked, “If you could design your dream park, what would it include?” Any and all suggestions were welcome from the public for consideration, with the added incentive that participants were also given the option of being entered into a $50 Hy-Vee gift card drawing for their efforts in providing ideas for potential future park amenities. Nearly five months later, the data is in and is now being compiled for review.
Currently featuring more than 30 parks, Cottage Grove continues to focus on providing new, creative spaces for people of all ages and varying interests to be able to gather, exercise and play throughout the community.
Efforts have been made in recent years to expand park concepts in new directions, including unique installations like the bike park on Meadow Grass Avenue South, with mountain bike trails, jumps, ramps, and wall rides.
Council Member Tony Khambata noted, “The City Council prides itself on making sure our parks are well-maintained, and that equipment is updated and replaced whenever possible,” referring to the recent completion of the new Strawberry Fields Park at 9200 Granada Ave S.
Mayor Myron Bailey described the goal of the broad outreach project by asking, “What do you see within our parks? What are you looking for in the future?”
The survey results from the public provided numerous ideas, falling into five primary categories: Aquatics, New Buildings, Indoor Features, Outdoor Features, and Visual/Aesthetic upgrades.
Suggested aquatic features included new splash pads, sprinklers, water slides, and a pool or manmade lake. New building recommendations from the public included a music band shell for hosting live community performances, additional winter-use facilities, a food truck park, and a refrigerated outdoor ice rink similar to The Oval in Roseville.
Indoor features submitted for review involved adding more permanent constructed restrooms instead of porta- toilets at public facilities, an indoor track and fitness facility, better accessibility to all buildings for those with physical limitations, a Ninja Warrior Course, and more youth play options like dirt/water tables.
Regarding outdoor features, there are already plans for a new outdoor fitness fixture in a redevelopment of Kingston Park. More walking and biking trails are also being considered, as well as new playground equipment, more outdoor grills and benches, a dog park, and a dedicated sledding hill.
Aesthetic feature recommendations included more trees for shade in public venues, additional landscaping incorporating native flora, added plants and flowers for pollinators, and more signs with historical information about the area.
Mayor Bailey summarized, “We’re gathering all the data, breaking it out. There are certain things that we’re going to be able to do, or are in the process of doing. There are other things that we’ll be looking at down the road as options, but we do appreciate the number of people that participated in this survey.”