It’s parks construction season

Published 6:55 am Sunday, May 25, 2014

City workers Roger Olson, left, and Henry Manges upgrade a tee pad on Thursday on Hole 5 of Oak Island Disc Golf Course at Bancroft Bay Park. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

City workers Roger Olson, left, and Henry Manges upgrade a tee pad on Thursday on Hole 5 of Oak Island Disc Golf Course at Bancroft Bay Park. — Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Work on Albert Lea recreational amenities already is underway

The unofficial start of summer is Memorial Day weekend. As residents head outdoors, they will discover new or upgraded parks equipment.

As always, road construction season coincides with park construction season. Several parks, trails and recreational amenities are going to see work this summer, and many of the changes already are underway.

Here is a listing:

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Tiger Hills Park

• Installation of playground equipment

• Estimated cost $9,000

• The first portion of playground equipment, fundraised by neighborhood residents, was installed in 2013. The second portion is funded by the city.

• Late June to August


Eberhardt Park

• Installation of playground equipment

• Estimated cost $9,000

• Swings, a slide, a spinning toy and spring animals will replace aging equipment.

• Late June to August


Frank Hall Park tennis courts

• Resurfacing courts, repainting

• Estimated cost $16,000

• One tennis court will remain, and the rest of the space will be turned into six pickleball courts. A group of residents is fundraising for posts and nets for the courts.

Early June


Edgewater Park Cottage

• Renovation of building

• Estimated cost more than $100,000

• A group of local residents raised more than $35,000 in monetary donations and more than $75,000 in in-kind donations for the project.

• All summer; building will not be available for renting


Oak Island Disc Golf Course

• Updating tee pads throughout the course, the more challenging of the two courses at Bancroft Bay Park

Estimated cost $3,500

• City staff are removing form boards around the tee pads poured in 2012, filling in around them with crushed limestone and then placing treated timber around the limestone.

• Late May


Albert Lea city pool

Though there isn’t any construction happening at the pool this summer, residents can expect some other changes.

The city is expanding pool hours into the evening to reach out to families who may not be able to come during the day, said Parks and Recreation Director Jay Hutchison.

The new pool hours will be from 1 to 5 p.m. for daytime swim and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for nighttime swim on Mondays through Fridays. Hours will be from 1 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The city has also started a family pass, caretaker pass and non-swimmer pass to accommodate more people.

The city will have a free swim day on June 19.

People can rent equipment such as basketballs, volleyballs and horseshoes at the pool to use throughout Frank Hall Park.


Blazing Star Trail

The Legislature approved $433,000 in funding to complete the Blazing Star Trail from Myre-Big Island State Park to Hayward, though it is unclear when the project will be completed.

The money specifically will cover the last mile and a half stretch of the extension, from the edge of Albert Lea Lake to Hayward.

The Blazing Star Trail presently begins at Frank Hall Park in Albert Lea and goes to a point on the northeast side of Myre-Big Island State Park, about a three quarters of a mile from the western shore of Albert Lea Lake’s northern bay.

The extension would be 2.9 miles and would include a bridge over Albert Lea Lake. Once it is completed, it would be turned over to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for maintenance.

It is also unclear whether what was allocated will be enough to finish the extension. Local officials had initially requested $500,000.


Edgewater Bay Pavilion

Hutchison said installation of a heating and cooling system at the new Edgewater Bay Pavilion has been put on hold pending the results of a study about the uses of different city buildings by BKV Group, of Minneapolis, for $100,000. The study will also review the acoustics in the building.


Freeborn County bike plan

Chris Shoff, chairman of the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners, said city and county officials may begin in June to discuss the bike trails in both Albert Lea and Freeborn County. The officials will look at how the trails tie together and what can be do to make the system better.


Abandoned Union Pacific line to Hartland

With a tentative $1.1 million offer already accepted by Union Pacific Railroad, Freeborn County officials are waiting for the railroad company to complete its paperwork and legal processes in time to close on the sale by fall, Shoff said.

The property, which goes from Albert Lea’s Madison Avenue to Hartland, would be developed into a 12-mile multi-use trail.

The county has been working to acquire the land since 2010, when Union Pacific officials sent out a letter to county, state and federal officials informing them of their proposed plan to abandon the line. The line had not been used for several years.

The county would pay for the cost of the acquisition through grant funds.

Local officials said in a previous interview they have seen the potential of connecting the trail with the Front Street bike lanes, which ultimately connect to the Blazing Star Trail. The completed trail is also projected to bolster property values and make adjacent properties easier to sell.


BridgePort Marina

The Fountain Lake Sportsmen’s Club is raising money for a multi-use dock off of Bridge Avenue.

Club President Bill Howe said a portion will be for fishing and the remainder will be for boats to tied up to. The dock would be put in across from Walgreens after the fundraising is completed hopefully this year, Howe said.

The Sportsmen’s Club hopes to raise $35,000, and the group will be applying for matching grants.

To get involved, contact Howe at 383-3117.


Shell Rock River Water Trail

The advisory committee to the Shell Rock River Watershed District plans to create a 25-mile water trail with educational signs.

The trail would go from Fountain Lake to Albert Lea Lake and ultimately to the Shell Rock River, with 13 miles of river on the trial.

Howe, who is also on the advisory committee, said there would be 14 locations for the signs.

Eventually, the group hopes the trail will be recognized as a state trail.

Cost is estimated at between $400 and $500 for the signs.