Baxter approves additional spending for Berrywood and Whipple park improvements
BAXTER — Improvements for Berrywood and Whipple Beach are expected to be completed by early August.
Spending for a Berrywood Park picnic pavilion and Whipple Beach open-air picnic pavilion with kitchen gained Baxter City Council approval Tuesday.
The original plan for the 40-foot-by-40-foot pavilion at Whipple Beach included a budget of $165,000. The council already whittled away at design elements such as a cupola to reduce costs.
City staff chose St. Croix Recreation Fun Playgrounds to create the picnic pavilion. When all the costs were added, ranging from six trees to a fence and posts for a charcoal grill, to a kitchen paper towel dispenser, in addition to the shelter installation with stone columns, the costs rose to $175,012. The council approved spending the additional $10,000 from the park dedication funds. For Berrywood Park’s 26-foot-by-26-foot pavilion without kitchen, the budget was for $45,000. The costs for the project came in at $54,574.
Options before the council were to remove items such as a sidewalk area, four trees, a charcoal grill and hot coal receptacle and rock columns among others or to do the project in its entirety. To complete the full project as planned, the city council agree to take another $20,000 from the park dedication funds.
The additional $20,000, a park report noted would “allow for complete restoration to the entire project area. This would include the surrounding access points, provide additional safety features, reduce city liability, allow 100 percent handicapped accessibility and increase efficiency to maintain the facility.”
Mayor Darrel Olson thanked staff and the parks commission members for their work.
Olson said in a response to a recent letter to the editor questioning taking funds to build parks when there were street needs, the park funds are in a separate pot.
Park funds are paid by developers, including apartment buildings, to further take care of people they are putting into the community. The developers paying the park fee expect it to be used for that purpose alone and the fund is dedicated to that purpose alone, Olson said.
Council member Jim Klein asked if the projects could be completed earlier. Fellow council members joked saying with this winter, people may still be looking at snow when the calendar says it’s early summer.